Harry was all but dragged out the hospital an hour later and he couldn't stop the tears as he was pulled away from Leolin so that he could go down to have his X-rays done.
Nasta picked him up and bumped him over his shoulder so that he could carry him easier and Harry wrapped himself around Nasta tightly, holding on as he cried. It helped to know that this hurt his mates as much as it hurt him, he hated it, he didn't want to leave, but he couldn't risk being barred from the hospital.
He hated those fucking Healers, he hated them for making him leave, but he respected the hell out of them for sleeping in the hospital just to keep an all-night vigil on Leolin to make sure that he was alright and if his little boy survived this…he'd apologise to them for his behaviour, his words, his thoughts and he'd send them and their families on fucking holiday to the tropics if he could, but he hated them in that moment as he was taken through the floo in tears, his heart ripped in two between the sick baby he was going home to and the sick baby he was being forced to leave in the hospital.
Chapter Eighty-Five - Our Farewell
Harry knew immediately when he got home through the floo that Myron had been told of the news article. His face was red, bordering on purple, a vein was throbbing in his temple and his one hand was clenched into a tight fist, the other was wrapped around Calix's sleeping body.
Aneirin was sat on the settee, he looked angry too and he also had a red flush to his face and neck, he was holding the newspaper spread out over his knees.
"Let me see." Harry demanded, his throat raw.
"I don't think now is the right…" Nasta tried but Harry cut over him.
"Now is the perfect time, give it to me!"
Aneirin handed the paper over reluctantly and Harry glared at it in disgust as he read the article. He ground his teeth together and was practically shaking with his anger the more that he read. He had been right, they subtly implied that it was his, or his lovers', fault, they insinuated that if a 'Mother', which Harry took to mean a woman, had been in their household it wouldn't have happened and speculated on why two of his children had been admitted to St Mungos and why one was still there despite the attention of senior Healers, theorising heavily that the baby wasn't going to leave the hospital alive after its treatment in his care.
He was going to kill all of them. Suing them wasn't enough, he was going to march straight to their offices and rip them all limb from limb and then slash out their throats.
He hadn't realised that he'd actually been doing just that until Draco rushed after him and snatched him up into his arms, holding him tight as Nasta read the article aloud, sneering heavily.
Of course Narcissa flooed over in such a panic that she almost fell over Myron's foot and the bigger man had to dart quickly to catch her by grabbing the back of her robes and yanking her up, unable to do anything more gentle or gentlemanly as Calix was still sleeping in his other arm.
"Mother." Draco greeted, unable to go to her because he was afraid that Harry might make a break for escape.
Before another word could be said, Lucius Malfoy was there looking almost apoplectic with rage, his pale face flushed the same pink that Draco's went when angry.
"I take it that this is another unauthorised piece?" He snapped out softly with so much contained anger and threat that it reminded Harry that this man had been a Death Eater, blackmailed into it or not, he had been a Death Eater.
"I don't want to sue them." Harry said calmly.
Eight heads almost broke their necks with how quickly they turned to stare at him.
"How could you not?!" Blaise demanded.
"I want them dead." Harry snarled, kicking out and writhing in Draco's hold. "I want every single one of them DEAD!"
Nasta took him from Draco and forced his head into the crook of his neck, but Harry wasn't having any of it and he unsheathed his fangs and bit Nasta's neck instead, which startled Nasta enough to drop him and then Harry rushed for the nearest door.
It was Aneirin who caught him this time, the sixty year old man surprisingly quick for such an age, but then it didn't really count with Drackens, sixty in Dracken years was the equivalent of being stuck at thirty biologically, or at least Harry thought it might have been, because the speed and strength of Aneirin left him stumped stupid as to what had happened and how he had been stopped for a few moments.
Then Nasta, fangs, claws and wings out, snatched him back and snarled right in his ear.
"Remember that he's pregnant, Nas." Was all that Aneirin said as he sat back on the settee.
Harry felt teeth scrape over the back of his neck and his instincts stilled his body immediately, those teeth bit down just enough to apply pressure without breaking the skin and his body was flooded with endorphins and he went boneless in Nasta's arms.
"I am your dominant, the top dominant for this family! I decide what we do." Nasta growled harshly at him. "You do not make the decisions for us, I do!"
Harry was pushed onto the settee and he stayed there unhappily.
"We're suing them." Nasta growled tightly. "I won't have my family disrespected in such a way, I won't have my submissive or my subordinates accused of endangering our children and I will not allow them to get away with surmising over my sick, hospitalised son."
The three older men in the room nodded and they started talking about the process to get the lawsuit rolling.
"I will start wording the letters." Lucius promised. "I sent the cease and desist letter in the summer when they harassed Harry at his own graduation, I am certain that you will win this case."
"Thank you, we appreciate your help." Nasta nodded.
Max forced a cup of tea into Harry's hands, his own shaking a bit too much to be anything other than pain related and Harry sat up and took note of it, thinking of something else besides Leolin for the first time in several hours.
"Are you okay?" He asked softly, trying to avoid Nasta's attention.
Max sat down and held out his quivering hands.
"It feels like they're being stabbed over and over." Max grumbled. "It's the Skele-gro."
"I remember what that was like; it felt like a thousand splinters were being stabbed into my arm."
Harry took his one hot hand and rubbed it between both of his own and Max sighed happily.
"This helped when I was dealing with Skele-gro, a little bit at least, I wasn't allowed any visitors in the Hospital Wing, so I had to do it myself and as it was my whole arm, it never really worked properly, at least it's only your knuckles. Have you taken any more pain reliever?"
"I don't deserve it." Max said softly, looking away in shame.
Harry gave him the look that that comment deserved.
"Can someone go and get Max a pain reliever please." Harry asked as he continued massaging Max's burning knuckles, swapping over to his other hand.
Draco did as he was told and brought back the potion quickly, which Harry forced Max to drink, not that it took much as Myron was giving Max his own look, which effectively had Max swallowing the potion quickly and without question.
"What happened to your hands?" Aneirin asked curiously.
"He thought that it would be a good idea to hit walls." Harry replied as he finished up his massage and picked up his cup of tea, somehow he just knew there was a calming draught in it.
Once he'd drained his tea and the potion had taken effect, only then did he realise that the only baby in the room was Calix. He could almost feel his panic attacking the calming draught.
"Where are the others?" He demanded.
"They went up for their afternoon nap. Aneirin and I had just come back down when you came home." Myron answered concisely.
Harry knew then that he was still a little slow and shocky, he should have known that his babies would have gone up for their nap by now, but the routine he had worked out with his mates that they kept to strictly had slipped from his mind and he couldn't remember anything and that made him feel useless.
"They won't sleep for long." Aneirin told them. "They barely stayed down for their midmorning nap. They know that something's wrong."
They found out exactly how true that was when only fifteen minutes later they heard one of the babies waking up and letting out a shrill cry, which woke the others.
Nasta and Blaise went up to get them and when they came down, two babies apiece, there were tears on chubby little cheeks.
"Mama!" Braiden called out as soon as he saw him sat on the settee, he was struggling in Blaise's arms to get to him, reaching out for him.
Harry took him from Blaise and held him tight, but it seemed his three other babies wanted him and his attention as well and Harry was stuck with Regan lounging on his lap, Farren was on one side of him and Tegan and Braiden were on his other side and he was getting the full works, babbling, screeches, dribbling, calls of 'Mama' and the baby equivalent of hugs, which included little hands clenching in his hair.
"I missed you all too." Harry said softly as he tried to hold their squirming bodies and stop them from falling to the floor as they all babbled over one another.
Braiden was settled and happy to know that Harry was there and was not going anywhere as he slipped himself off the settee and crawled over the floor to his toys, looking back to make sure that Harry hadn't moved from where he was sat on the settee.
He got out his toys from the large box in the corner, which attracted Regan's attention and he slipped down to crawl over to the toys too and he giggled happily as Braiden handed him a wooden block and they started building a tower together, a very wonky, strange looking tower, but still a tower. Harry just loved watching them playing together, Braiden handing Regan blocks, sharing without being taught or told, doing it because he wanted to.
Tegan babbled angrily and got onto the floor and Harry watched her carefully as she went the long way around the coffee table so that Braiden wouldn't see her, trying to sneak up on him to hurt him for taking Regan's attention, and then Blaise picked her up, which she did not like at all if her squalling was any indication.
Calix made a soft sound in his sleep and Harry stood up, handing a relaxed and laidback Farren quickly to Max and taking Calix from Myron and taking him away from the noise, but it was too late, he made it to the hallway when glassy jet black eyes blinked open and Calix babbled softly, tiredly.
Harry sighed. "Hello, love, how are you?"
Harry brushed his fluffy hair back from his face and kissed him gently; sniffing him lightly and he didn't need to breathe in any deeper than that, he smelt the sickness on him, the cloying, too sweet smell of it and it almost choked him. His arms automatically clenched tight around Calix before relaxing so that he didn't hurt his sick son.
He took Calix back into the living room and he grimaced at the people there.
"Did he have his potion?" He asked.
Myron nodded. "He refused all solid food though; he had half a bottle of milk instead. He was able to swallow it more easily than anything more solid."
Harry nodded and cradled Calix gently until Narcissa wanted a hold and he passed him over reluctantly. It was driving him out of his mind smelling the sickness on Calix and knowing that he was sick and that Leolin was sick too, but Calix wasn't getting better, surely there should have been some improvement by now, but all Calix wanted to do was continually sleep and he wasn't eating properly. He was nine months old; he needed more than just half a bottle of milk.
Even now Harry watched him fighting off sleep, little mouth puckering in a yawn as he settled down in Narcissa's arms to sleep some more. He was worried.
He felt like he was having a complete mental breakdown, torn clean in half between Leolin and Calix, he wanted to keep them both together so that he could stay with them indefinitely until they were both recovered, but doing so would risk Leolin's life and going between the both of them was hurting something within him, he tugged at his own hair and bit his bottom lip hard to keep in the sob that wanted to escape. He felt like he was going slowly insane and he was losing his grip on reality, it wasn't any wonder why the Ministry classed Drackens as dark, dangerous creatures if this is what they saw, the mindless insanity that came from being stuck between two sick children when he was unable to help either of them.
A shrill scream of pain had him snapping his head over to see Tegan attacking Braiden, her little hands fisted into Braiden's hair tighter than tight and putting all of her weight behind pulling on it, and of course then he heard Calix crying behind him as he was woken by Braiden's cries and he snapped.
"Stop it, Tegan! For fucks sake just STOP IT!" He shouted as loudly as he could at her.
He realised exactly what he'd done in the silence that followed and he was horrified with himself as he stared wide eyed at his frowning daughter. Her hazel eyes filled with tears and when the first one fell, Harry broke and he ran from the room and barricaded himself in his bedroom.
His own tears started and he sobbed harshly, wracking his whole body as he cried. He couldn't believe what he'd just done, to his own child no less, and he slumped to the floor, curled up on his side, which put him partially under the bed, and he just cried. He cried violently, the picture of Tegan's crumpled face in his mind until he was sick and then he couldn't stop crying or vomiting. It was a vicious, unending, unrelenting circle, he couldn't stop crying and he was so disgusted with himself that he vomited and then it carried on until he was lying in his own sick and then he couldn't move himself because of how hard he was sobbing, said sobs wracking and convulsing his whole body out of his control.
He was shaking and he couldn't believe that he'd shouted at his baby daughter, what sort of monster was he?
Someone knocked on the door and it creaked open, then suddenly he was being pulled backwards and someone was soothing him, but he couldn't see through his tears. He was carried into the bathroom and placed by the toilet.
"I was wondering when this would start, you always suffer with morning sickness and you're almost two months pregnant." Nasta's strong, comforting voice said gently as he pulled his hair away from his mouth.
"It's not morning sickness." Harry said weakly. "I cried too much and started being sick and then I couldn't stop. I'm a monster."
"You're not a monster." Nasta told him with a sigh. "We're all under a lot of pressure and the stress of this is getting to all of us. Tegan is no worse off for having you shout at her, in fact she's actually behaving herself for once."
"She is nine months old! I shouted at my nine month old daughter!" Harry sobbed.
"It's alright." Nasta soothed as he rocked Harry gently. "These aren't normal circumstances, you don't go around shouting at her every day, it was once, Harry. Once under a high pressure, severe stress situation. Let it go, love."
Harry cried onto Nasta and breathed calmly and shallowly to calm his roiling belly.
"I can't believe I shouted at her like that, she's going to hate me."
"She cried for you the moment you left the room." Nasta told him. "You were the one she wanted and she stopped hurting Braiden as well."
"I need to see her, I need to apologise."
"You don't. Do you feel better?"
Harry nodded as he stood on wobbly legs and washed his hands and face with cold water, checking in the mirror to make sure there was no vomit in his hair. Nasta was in the bedroom cleaning up the mess he'd made and then he escorted him down the stairs.
"Are you alright?" Draco asked him gruffly, pulling Harry into a tight hug.
"Ma mam ma." Tegan called out, her own face tearstained as she crawled to his legs and sat back on her knees lifting her hands up to him.
Harry picked her up and cuddled her tightly, apologising to her over and over. He told her how sorry he was and how much he loved her as he kissed her chubby cheek as she clung to him.
"Sit down, Harry; you need to recover your strength." Nasta said as he sat Harry down and fussed over him.
"It was just a little sick." Harry said weakly.
"You were sick?" Max asked and he shared a look with Nasta.
"What?" Harry asked with a frown. "I cried too hard, that's all."
Max looked relieved and he sighed with that relief.
"What's the matter?"
"If you'd been sick because of an illness, you couldn't have gone back to see Leolin." Blaise told him.
"But you weren't." Nasta said firmly before Harry could rip out Blaise's throat for daring to say such a thing. "So we'll be going back in a few hours to see him, but first, you need to eat something to regain your strength."
"You aren't giving me a choice, are you?" Harry said with a groan.
Nasta shook his head. "No. You eat or you aren't going back, especially after being so sick upstairs."
Harry just nodded, giving in to Nasta's demands without a fight. He didn't want to fight any more as he rocked Tegan in his arms, holding her little head to his chest, running gentle fingers through her hair, it reached just below her ears, it made Harry smile as he realised that she and Nasta had the same length hair, though Nasta did grow it a little longer on top and at the back.
He was watched as he sat on the floor to eat a bowl of light soup, Tegan staying between his legs on the floor, playing with his socked toes and a stuffed penguin.
Harry ate his soup easily and then a sandwich with two cups of honey tea and a glass of water. He had Calix back in his arms as Myron and Lucius left to start the suing process of the Daily Prophet and Narcissa followed after them half an hour later, leaving Aneirin to stay with them, offering to be their babysitter when they went back to see Leolin. He looked troubled however.
"What's wrong, Dad?" Nasta asked, picking up on the thread of tension also as he wiped Farren's chin with a muslin cloth after he'd dribbled a biscuit over his face because he'd eaten it with too much relish and fervour.
"I'm just wondering how long it's going to take the Faerie courts to see that article and put two and two together. They read the Daily Prophet as well."
Nasta's face went stark white and Harry felt a thread of fear filter into his heart.
"They won't go near him." He said firmly and with more confidence than he felt.
"If the courts decide that Leolin isn't safe with us…" Nasta said weakly.
"They won't take him!" Draco hissed. "Over my dead fucking body!"
"Don't say things like that!" Harry cried out. "They won't take our Leolin and they certainly will not be killing any of us! I won't allow it!"
"They can't just take him can they?" Max asked. "I mean, that would be the worst thing possible for Leolin right now, they'd end up killing him and that's the last thing they want, right? So they can fight us all they want, but the Ministry won't recognise their authority in the hospital because they're magical creatures, so they can't get access to Leolin without our permission and even then that's subject to the Healers' demands. They cannot get to Leolin in the hospital and they don't know where we are, we'd have to take Leolin to them, which of course we won't do. They cannot get our son and if they do find out where we live…we get the kids out and we fight them for daring to try and take our baby boy by force."
"They won't." Aneirin shook his head. "They won't try to take him by force, there'd be too much of an opportunity for him to be injured or killed. They'd talk their way to him, they'd play mind games to make you feel like handing him over is the only way to keep him alive. They'd make you feel guilty and useless and unfit to look after him and they'd convince you that the only way is to hand him over, they'd promise that you'd get to see him when he's older, that he can see you whenever he likes when he's an adult and much stronger than he is as a child, but even if he reached his adult years you'd never see him again. They'd adopt him out to Faerie parents, who would raise him like their own and they'd never tell him that they weren't his biological parents and because you gave him up to them, Faerie law, which they won't tell you about by the way, means that you sign away all of your rights to him as his parents and you agree to never seek to get him back and you never try to see him again under threat of execution in the Faerie city, even if you don't touch a document, the mere act of handing him over is paramount in Faerie law, if you hand him over to them, then you're signing away your right to him as his parents."
Harry felt weak kneed at that and he carefully felt his way to the settee to sit down. He felt more reassured that they wouldn't take Leolin by force, because he knew he would never hand his son over to anyone, but the thought that if he did, in a moment of grief or guilt that the Faeries would exploit mercilessly, that he'd never see his little boy again made bile crawl up the back of his throat.
He made it to the downstairs bathroom with just seconds to spare as he dry heaved twice and then he vomited up his lunch. He was dimly aware of hands touching him, soothing him as he calmed himself and lay his head on his arms, which were folded over the toilet seat.
"They won't ever get him." Blaise said soothingly. "We would never give up our rights to him, even if we weren't Drackens."
"What if I do?" Harry whispered hoarsely. "What if they make me feel like I can't look after him? I already feel like I can't! But I won't give him up to anyone else. I won't!"
"You take Nasta with you to the Faerie city, you don't go alone, Harry, so even if you do start to feel that handing him over is the only way to keep him alive through their vicious mind tricks, Nasta will stop you, Innamorato."
"What if we both start feeling like it's the only way?" Harry spoke aloud his new fear.
"That is easily solved if you do not take him to the city. If he's not there for them to take, how can they take him?" Blaise said carefully. "Go to them without Leolin to talk everything through, and then when you feel better and more secure, take him to visit."
Harry turned around and latched onto Blaise and hugged him tightly.
"What would I have ever done without you?" Harry sniffed. "You're always the one to help me through these hard times."
"I wouldn't be a very good dominant mate if I didn't." Blaise brushed off.
"No. It's more than that. You've been here for me from the very beginning, Blaise. You were my first everything. My first boyfriend, my first mate, my first lover, my first love, the Father to my first born child, I had my first ever heat period with you, my first mate meeting with the knowledge that you were always there, you've always been there for me."
"Not always." Blaise said with a self-depreciating grimace.
"You were punished and forgiven for that, Blaise." Harry told him. "Like Max has been punished and forgiven. That's how this works, if we do something wrong, we get punished for it and time to realise what we've done and to make amends and then we are forgiven and life carries on. I still love you, Blaise, like I still love Max despite any wrong doing he's done. He upset me, you upset me, I get over it and I still love you."
"That's because we have children with you, would you have put up with us and our actions if we weren't Drackens? If we never had children with you?" Blaise asked seriously.
Harry sighed heavily. "It's impossible to say, I am a Dracken and we do have children, but I know, deep inside that I love you all. I love every single one of you right down into the deepest parts of me and if anything happened to you, it would kill a piece of me to lose you. Submissive Drackens are forced to love their dominants with the birth of children, but I loved you all before any children came along and I think that if that dominant died, then the hold over the submissive would die as well, thus they would be happy and grateful and glad that the dominant had died. I wouldn't feel that way if you or Max died, Blaise. I'd be crushed and devastated. I don't just love you because of Braiden; I don't hate you just because you walked out on me once due to anger, stress and sleep deprivation. It'll take a hell of a lot more than that to counter all the good qualities that you have, all the little things you do for me each and every day, it will take a lot of bad and negative feelings to change the love I hold for you into hate."
Blaise all but crushed him in his arms then, holding him tight and kissing his hair.
"Ti amo, Blaise." Harry whispered with a soft smile into Blaise's shoulder.
"Ti amo, mio diletto." Blaise whispered back, his breath just ruffling the messy tufts of Harry's hair.
"I'd kiss you right now, but I've just been sick and I think only Max is gross enough to kiss me after I've vomited, so I need to brush my teeth."
Harry did just that as he pushed away from Blaise's warm, soft body.
"Max kissed you after you'd vomited, properly kissed you?"
"Four times." Harry nodded. "Tongues and all."
Harry laughed as he saw Blaise's face in the mirror, crinkled with his disgust.
"I am never kissing him again."
"It was before I'd even mated to him. It was when I was rejecting Draco, I accepted Max through those four kisses and then I took Draco back, it's how I forced them both to be mated to me when really only one of them should have been. If it hadn't have been for those four kisses, I might never have had Max to call mine."
"Then I'm glad he found the courage to kiss you, vomit and all." Blaise said and Harry hit him gently with a chuckle. "Let's go and get you something to drink, mio amore, you need a sit down too."
Harry let Blaise lead him into the living room and sit him on the settee before he was gone to get him another glass of water.
"You look like you feel better." Max said with a worried smile.
"I told Blaise about the time that you kissed me after I'd been sick. He was suitably disgusted, which made me laugh."
Max laughed himself and sat next to him, pulling him into a deep kiss.
"I don't care what you've been doing; the urge to just kiss you overtakes everything else. I love you too much, even back then, to care about such trivial things, I needed to kiss you, so I did."
"He'd been sick!" Draco said aghast. "Your first thought should have been to comfort him and get him into a bed, not ravishing him!"
"It wasn't that type of sick, Draco." Harry assured him. "It was after Max told me what that little bastard Dominic was going to do to my babies, I couldn't hold onto my stomach after hearing that my children, my babies, would have been harvested for potion ingredients."
Harry looked to his babies, Braiden and Regan who were playing in the remains of what had once been a tower, Farren on the floor by the table actually playing for once with a ball, Tegan by Draco's feet still with her stuffed penguin and Calix, fast asleep on the settee, cushions piled high to prevent him from rolling off. He shivered and cuddled into Max.
"I wouldn't have allowed him to do such a thing." Blaise assured him as he came back into the living room. "I was older, bigger, stronger than him and I was mated to you first. If by some freak accident you had mated to such a vile dominant, I would have killed him for you and you would have been able to get a new mate, but he would have never been able to do what he had planned to our children. He wouldn't have lived long enough to have seen them born."
Harry smiled at that and accepted the glass of water. "I hope none of our children end up with anyone like that."
"We'll raise them right and we'll raise them to be picky." Nasta assured him. "Draco and Blaise got lucky, finding you so young and with only a few meetings between them, but it takes a few meetings to get into the swing of things and then a few more to actually find a submissive worth the time and effort. No one is exaggerating when they say that you were one of the most coveted submissives of the last decade. I can count on one hand the amount of submissives I've truly chased after; two of them rejected me and one found her dominant before I even got to speak to her, but the point I'm trying to make is that submissives like you and like the three others I saw are rare, Harry and they're getting rarer. For every twenty submissive meetings only one or two will be kind, conscientious, loving submissives."
"I was bisexual with a preference for men." Max shrugged. "Chasing after the female submissives was something I knew I had to do, because everyone thought that male submissives had fallen out of the genes and with female dominant numbers going down too…everyone thought that the anomalies were being bred out…I think I chased after several submissives properly and three of them don't count because they were my first meetings and I was young, brash and overly excited to just be near a submissive that I would have taken them if they'd been the devil incarnate. But Nasta's right, being lucky enough to be one of the hundred dominants chosen by one of the kinder, sweeter submissives who aren't utter sluts is near impossible. I was so stunned when you asked to speak to me that first time that my Uncle had to give me a smack to get me moving. You were so beautiful, so perfect, I couldn't believe my luck."
"I'm not perfect!" Harry denied with a scowl. "You know that I'm not!"
"Perfect doesn't mean flawless." Nasta told him with an indulging, adoring smile. "You have your faults as we all do, but you're still perfect to us because you're exactly what we were looking for. We say perfect because we've seen the utter bitches that some submissives can be, the sluts who order us to strip off so that they can fondle us before choosing us like prime cattle, the submissives who order us to fight to the death like ancient gladiators of a ludus, those who belittle us and make us lose all self-confidence and belief in ourselves. You were never like that, even with those you knew you weren't going to be mated with, you shot a few of them down sharply after they were disrespectful to you, but you never destroyed them or their confidence and I think I loved you from the first time that I saw you. Your friend, the baby dominant, Henley, he actually took away the confidence to get his own submissive from meeting you, if his first meeting had been anyone else, acting how he did, like an overgrown child and actually allowing his Father to accompany him…he would have been torn to pieces by some submissives, they would have stomped on his excited buoyancy, torn out his kind, good intentions and crushed his sweet nature under foot. I've seen it a thousand times, even with Max." Nasta said with a nod to Max, whose face shadowed with the memory of his first meeting where he had been ripped to pieces and had had his confidence completely shattered. "But not you, you gave that baby dominant what he needed, the belief in himself, the confidence to be himself and not to try to be someone else to impress a submissive and because of that, he's mated with a child and another one on the way."
Harry grinned at the reminder of Henley's baby. The excitable young man he'd once compared to a crack addicted puppy dog had sent him an excited letter, enclosed with a photo of himself with his pretty mate Anabel and their little daughter Claudia, who was just months younger than Braiden. She had been born at the beginning of December, so she was just weeks older than his quintuplets and it made Harry feel slightly better to know that Henley's mate Anabel had caught on her first heat after she'd given birth too. He hadn't had an update from Henley since, but he'd made sure to inform him of his six babies with the more on the way, he'd enclosed his own family portrait photo, him, his mates and all of their little ones. It had been hell trying to get them all to look at the camera at once, but the finished result was worth it. That portrait was hanging on at least several walls of family members with instructions to update them as soon as the twins were born.
"Do you feel better now?" Aneirin asked him from where he was sat, easily forgettable, in an armchair away from them. Harry had forgotten that he was there.
Harry nodded. "I do actually. I can't wait to hear from Henley, his mate is due in October, the same as Amelle."
"Amelle is beating Caesar with baby names." Max informed him. "Or at least that's what Caesar says. Though apparently she only wanted Eleonora to be Gem Bear to wind him up."
Harry nodded. "She did, she was never seriously considering it. He kept telling her what to do, so she tortured him with the idea that she was naming the baby Gem Bear. I wish I'd thought of it, I might have had a bit more freedom."
His mates gave him an evil look and he smiled innocently.
"Do you want some more tea?" Max asked as he looked at the clock. It was almost two in the afternoon. They'd been told sternly not to go back until after four o'clock and that they could stay until nine at the very latest. Having the set, unchanging times helped Harry deal a little better with everything.
Harry nodded his head. "Fingers crossed I can keep this down." He said wryly.
"Do you want to try some toast?"
Harry shook his head. "I honestly don't think I could eat anything, I'm going to struggle with just the tea. I don't want to risk it."
Max fretted then and Harry sighed and pulled him into a hug, rubbing their foreheads together with a smile.
"I'm fine, Maxie, I promise. Take care of yourself, especially with your hands. I can't keep anything down and forcing it in isn't going to help."
"Harry's right." Nasta cut in. "He is pregnant, but forcing him to eat isn't going to help him or the babies if he can't keep it down. It'll just ruin the lining of his stomach, so leave him be, if he feels up to it later, he can have a little light something to eat for dinner."
Harry all but beamed at Nasta for what he'd said and he forced himself up and he threw his arms around Nasta, which made him chuckle deeply and cuddle him back. They kept this up for long minutes, wrapped up with one another and rocking from side to side with wide smiles.
"Are you two done cwtching?" Aneirin said, the laughter clear in his voice. "I think Braiden's jealous."
Harry looked down and found Braiden at his feet, frowning up at him and Nasta, arms around one another, Nasta swaying him lightly and soothingly.
Harry bent down and plucked his first born up off the floor and cradled him gently between him and Nasta.
"What's the matter, Braiden?" He asked.
"Mama, baba in."
"Baba in?" Harry said curiously. "That's a new one."
"Baba in." Braiden nodded seriously, before he turned in Harry's arms and pointed curiously to the bassinet that Leolin slept in and all at once Harry understood and his throat closed tight.
Nasta looked astounded. "I can't believe that he made such a connection so young."
"Baby Leolin isn't here right now, love." Harry said to his year old son, completely choked up. "He's at the hospital. He needs to get better before he can come home, but I'll be sure to let him know that you miss him."
Braiden nodded as if he actually understood him and Harry made a mental note to be careful with what he said around Braiden from now on. If Braiden could understand what they were saying, even a little, then he wanted absolutely no swearing or cursing around him and he wanted his mates, and himself of course, to censor what they said when little ears were listening in.
He shared a look with Nasta, who nodded as if he'd read his mind, Harry smiled; Nasta truly was the best candidate for their top dominant. He knew everything that was going on and what everyone was thinking, at least vaguely enough to guess and his guesses were usually correct. Harry loved him deeply.
At four in the afternoon, Harry had nibbled on a few dry, cream crackers and he was back in the hospital, dipping his hands into the cleansing solution while Healer Almus waved his wand over him and his mates.
He rushed into the secured, quarantined room and he hovered over Leolin's glass bassinet, checking all the wires and counting them, to make sure they were all there and nothing had changed.
Leolin looked worse than he had that morning, his breathing was now noticeably affected as he wheezed with every inhale and rattled with every exhale. The black-purpling bruising around his eyes was more pronounced, deeper and, not a chubby baby to begin with, he was starting to look skeletal.
"What happened?!" Harry demanded in a hiss. "He looks worse!"
"The virus has spread to encompass more of his lungs. More to his left than his right lung. He's finding it increasingly difficult to breathe, as you can probably hear for yourselves. We've got the ventilator on hand, just in case." Healer Cole told him, indicating a new machine off to the one side.
"You have to stop it!" Harry demanded furiously. "Do your jobs and help him!"
"Harry." Nasta warned him sharply. "I apologise for him, he's been having difficulties today."
Harry turned slowly and he glared at Nasta, baring his teeth.
"How is your pregnancy progressing?" Healer Almus concernedly.
"I've been queasy this afternoon." Harry admitted as he obsessively traced Leolin's face and body, pressing a finger to the tiny hand that was wired up to a machine that was beeping slowly, barely realising what he was saying.
"Would you like to have a once over?" Healer Almus offered.
"That would be kind, thank you." Nasta agreed.
"There's no need." Harry shot down. "I'm not leaving Leolin when I only have a limited amount of time with him. Can I pick him up?"
Healer Cole shook his head firmly. "No. At the moment he's at the perfect elevation to keep him breathing on his own and to help ease the congestion in his lungs, any disturbance to that could mean that he has to be put on the ventilator."
Harry swallowed the frustration and the urge to scream. This was for Leolin, he couldn't think of himself and his own needs. He wouldn't be that selfish, he'd already shoved his children to the side these past two days, he'd made a sick Calix cry and he'd actually shouted at Tegan. He had acted like the monster that the Ministry claimed all of his species, but he couldn't, he wouldn't, put Leolin's life at risk for himself. He wouldn't allow it when he knew that it could kill his son.
He contented himself with watching Leolin sleep, soothed himself with the knowledge that he was still breathing on his own for now. Leaving him was going to be that much harder when it came to nine o'clock, but until then he had five full hours with Leolin, unless of course the Healers threw them out early, but he didn't want to think about that happening, because if it did, it would mean that Leolin had taken a turn for the worst.
Leolin woke up when they'd been there for two hours, just sat in the quiet of the room with the whirring and beeping of the machines and he was visibly happy to see Harry bent over his bassinet as he wriggled enthusiastically as much as his tired, aching body could while it was wired up to all sorts.
Healer Almus handed him a premade bottle and Harry slipped an arm under the back of his head after asking the Healers if it was alright and he offered Leolin the bottle and he looked very unhappy to have the bottle waved in his face, but he took one look at Harry and opened his mouth, his throat looked red raw and Harry held his tears back by every single ounce of strength that he had left in his body. He now understood why Leolin didn't want to drink, every swallow must have been a painful hell for him, but he did it anyway, for his Mother, for Harry, who encouraged every single suckle and swallow enthusiastically.
"Who is such a good boy?" He gushed exaggeratedly, but Leolin cracked tired eyes open to look at him and he smiled around the bottle bulb.
Harry could feel his emotions getting out of hand and he used his right foot to stomp on his left, grinding down on his toes as he took a deep breath to calm himself. While Leolin was awake, he would be the picture of strength, care and confidence along with love and happiness. He could break down later at home, safe in the knowledge that his children couldn't see or hear him and that he had the support of his lovers at his side.
"You are my special little Faerie baby and I love you very, very much." Harry said clearly, his voice only wavered once.
"Ma." Leolin croaked softly, letting the bottle slip from his mouth.
"I'm right here, sweetheart." Harry assured him with a wide smile. "I'm right here, you can go back to sleep now, your Daddies and I aren't leaving, we won't leave you sweet baby."
Harry almost choked on the lie, but he watched as Leolin yawned, his raw throat being exposed yet again, before he held onto Harry's finger and he fell asleep again, but seeing him drink a little milk boosted Harry's spirits. Leolin hadn't given up and if he was half the little boy that Harry knew he was inside, then he wouldn't give up and neither would he.
The hours passed all too quickly, but they dragged slowly, endlessly on as they sat around Leolin and listened to him fight just to breathe. He woke up once more for some more milk and he didn't look at anyone else except Harry and it was Harry he reached out for when he had had enough milk.
Harry held him and hugged him as best as he could without picking him up or moving him from the soft, padded, foam mat that was keeping him elevated as he struggled to breathe before he fell back into a restless, uneasy sleep.
Healer Almus kicked them out at nine in the night and Harry was once again dragged away by Nasta as he cried and begged not to leave the hospital, to not be taken away from his son.
Aneirin had put all of their children to bed, but he'd kept Calix down with him and informed them unhappily that he had been sick at about seven. Max checked him over as the mate with the most medical training and he declared that he was alright, but that they'd have to keep an eye on him and if he was sick again or if his condition worsened, then he'd have to pay another visit to the hospital. Harry felt his sanity slipping away from him yet again and Nasta quickly bundled him up and off to the bedroom, ordering someone, anyone, to get a cup of tea and a mild sleeping potion.
"I don't want to sleep. I can't sleep, Nasta, please!" Harry begged, in tears at the very thought of it.
"You need to sleep, love. I don't like doing this to you, you know that I don't, but you're pregnant and you need to sleep. It's only a mild dosage, you won't have a full one, you'll sleep for eight hours under the potion and then however long your body can afterwards, but our twins need you to get some sleep. Let us deal with everything and get some sleep."
"I can't leave you to deal with everything…"
"We are not pregnant. You are." Nasta told him firmly. "I need you to sleep, Harry, as much for my peace of mind as for your health and our twins' health. You'll be up in time to visit Leolin in the morning, after a nice shower and breakfast, but right now, I need you to sleep, please do this for me, for our twins. Please, Cariad."
Harry sighed and he ducked his head. "Okay, but I'm not happy about this and you promise, you promise me, that you will look after Calix."
"You heard Max, he's alright, he just needs some watching, so if I bring his cot in here to sleep beside us and I sleep the closest to him, will that reassure you enough to sleep peacefully?"
Harry nodded. "Get some sleep yourself, Nas, please. I know that you never had any last night and don't try to fob me off, an hour or two on the settee doesn't count. You can put a ward on the floo to alert you to incoming calls and Calix can be right here with us. We all need the sleep and if you're forcing me to sleep, I want you to sleep for more than five hours tonight."
"I'll make sure that he does." Max assured him as he came over to the bed and handed over the potion laced tea.
"You too, Max, I want all of you to sleep for a couple of hours. You're all forcing me to eat and sleep and bathe and I know I'm pregnant, but you need to look after yourselves too, babies or no babies. They're going to need their Daddies too." Harry told them, palm over his belly as he sipped at his tea, waiting for it to cool a little before he gulped it down.
"I'll make sure of it." Nasta promised as he kissed him and took off Harry's jacket and his socks, because he knew how much Harry hated sleeping in his socks, and he tucked him in and urged him to drink down his tea.
Harry gulped it down before the potion could take effect and he spilt half the cup on himself, but he nodded off before he could lie down, he never saw the adoring smile that Max and Nasta gave him as they laid him down on the mattress, undressed him fully and covered him over, taking away the almost empty cup and they left him to sleep. They had a challenging several days coming up for them and they were going to need all of their strength and control to get them through it, but whatever the outcome, they would get through it together as a family.
Harry didn't know what was worse that following week. How slowly it went as they waited desperately for any update on Leolin, as they waited anxiously for Calix to show even the slightest improvement. So far Calix had not improved that they could see and all the updates on Leolin were the same and left him craving for even more information.
The funeral for Evelyn had been held on the sixteenth of September, which Alexander had graciously and sympathetically offered to postpone for them, but they had refused. Evelyn deserved to be put to rest by her family, with her family around her. He couldn't make the whole Maddison family wait to bury a beloved family member. There were relatives that he'd never seen or met before, Alexander's brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews who were scattered to the four winds, all over the world, all reunited together for the funeral of Evelyn Maddison, all waiting to bury her, he couldn't keep them waiting because of himself. Evelyn deserved to be put to rest, she deserved better than to rot above the ground waiting for something that might never happen.
It almost destroyed Max to attend, but Nasta had him in hand as he pulled Max into his body and held him tight when it looked like Max would bolt and hide from them. Harry reached up and laid a hand on Max's, which was locked around Nasta's shoulders as his biggest mate's knees gave in, Nasta holding him up and supporting that large body and heavier weight without a murmur of complaint. Blaise was running soothing lines up and down Max's spine as he watched the sermon and Draco was stood, tall and silent, the picture of perfect solemnness, it was only when you slipped around and looked at him from the front that you realised that his hand was between Max and Nasta's bodies, his palm resting comfortingly on Max's belly, the back of his hand pressing into Nasta's belly in silent support.
Severus Snape's funeral had been held three days later on the nineteenth, in the Hogwarts grounds and in front of the whole school. Old students had been invited back along with retired teachers who had known him and it was easy to sink into the shadows as he helped Blaise grieve for his Godfather and Draco grieve for his mentor.
Harry was stood with Hermione, who told him that even if Snape hadn't exactly been pleasant to her in her school years, he had still been a brilliant teacher and had helped her push herself to be her best to prove everyone wrong about her and her abilities. It was strange that half the graduated students that had come back to see Snape buried on the grounds had said near enough the same thing. They hadn't liked the man, but they said that he was a brilliant Potion's Master and in his own 'unique' way, had taught them what they needed to know.
A monument had been erected for Snape in a quiet, out of the way area of the grounds, far from being disrespectful to the man, Harry thought he would have rather preferred it as he looked at the wild plants growing around the area that Snape was being laid to rest in, at least half of them were used as potions ingredients.
Severus Snape was finally laid to rest and Harry shuddered at the thought of losing his mates in such a way. He and Nasta had gone with Snape to find Regulus and he still had the odd nightmare about it now. Snape deserved peace and quiet, he deserved to be reunited with Regulus and the baby daughter that they had lost.
Throughout the funerals, two in near as many days, Harry forced his mind to be blank and calm. He absolutely did not let it wander to the thoughts that in another few days he could be doing this for his own little boy. He wouldn't have been able to attend either funeral with that thought in his mind, but now, on the twenty-second of September, it was all he could think about.
He was spending as much time in the hospital as he could, he knew he was barely taking care of himself and as far as he was concerned, he was at the very bottom of the list. Leolin and Calix came first, as they were both sick, his four other children came next, then his mates as real people, then his unborn twins and then himself.
He was aware that he was distancing himself from his twins, because he knew that if anything happened to Leolin or Calix, then he wouldn't be in any fit state to look after them before or after they were born and that frightened him, truly frightened him. He didn't want to give up on any of his babies and realising that he was subconsciously distancing himself from his own children hurt his heart. He tried to counteract what he was doing once he knew that he was doing it, but he had so much to do, so many thoughts in his head and emotions in his heart that everything he did was difficult, was a struggle and he didn't know what to do or how to deal with it, so he shoved it to one side.
Braiden, Farren, Regan and Tegan had had their third and fourth Dragon Pox vaccines, Braiden didn't need another one now until he was three years of age, the quintuplets needed to have another jab in four months and Calix was not allowed his third jab until he was better, but that didn't seem like it would be any when soon.
Harry had finally had enough of Calix not improving and he snapped out where he was going as he bundled Calix up and took him through the floo and into the hospital, ignoring his startled mates. Healer Almus came out of Leolin's room just as Harry was going to knock on the door.
"It isn't time for…ah." Healer Almus started before he trailed off and Harry could almost see his Healer's mask slip into place.
"He's not getting any better, I know that you said it would take time, but it's been two weeks, surely he would have shown some improvements?"
"He hasn't shown any improvements since he was discharged from the hospital?" Healer Almus asked seriously.
Harry shook his head. "I'm so worried, he's spending all of his time sleeping, he's not eating, he'll only take a bit of milk when pushed and Max says that the last few times haven't been enough to give him his potion. I know that isn't serious, but I checked him over today and he's started to lose weight and I know that that is dangerous, please, I know you're looking after Leolin, but Calix is still sick!"
"Don't wind yourself up." Healer Almus soothed him gently; leading him into a room, a different one to the one that Calix had been in the first time. "I'll take a look at him. Bronchiolitis is a very virulent condition. Though it often sounds worse than it is because it affects the lungs, but if Calix is still refusing to eat, he may need to be readmitted."
Harry nodded, nervously playing with his hands as he watched Healer Almus check on a sleeping, wheezing, Calix.
"This is one of the premature babies, isn't it?" Healer Almus asked almost conversationally, but Harry picked up on a thread of something in his voice and he swallowed, nodding slowly. "How premature was he?"
"I…he was born nearly three months early." Harry said quietly.
"You don't happen to know how long it was in weeks, exactly." Healer Almus said, still in that strange tone as he checked Calix over.
"I conceived on the eighteenth of August and gave birth on the thirty-first of December; they were born ten weeks and four days early."
Healer Almus nodded. "Is Calix the baby who wasn't breathing at birth? The one who had fluid in his lungs?"
Harry nodded, feeling very scared now as he watched Healer Almus work on Calix. Had he focused all of his attentions on Leolin only to have Calix ripped from him instead? He had thought that Calix was going to be fine, that he was strong and robust and that he would be fine after his initial stay in the hospital because he didn't seem as weak as Leolin, didn't seem as small and fragile. Had he been wrong? Was he now going to lose his baby Calix because he had brushed aside his illness in favour of Leolin?
His body quivered with fear, he couldn't lose Calix, his happy, bubbly baby, but looking at him now, pale and exhausted, struggling to breathe, he felt sick and scared. Calix was seriously ill too and he hadn't noticed before now and because of that, Calix was suffering and through their negligence, they could now lose him after all.
"I need you to step outside for a while, Harry, go and get your lovers if you need to, but I need to check Calix over without distraction."
Harry nodded and he rushed to Healer Cole's office and he went straight home, stumbling out of the floo, to find that Nasta was rallying everyone and barking at them to do as he said.
"Harry! Where is Calix?" He growled.
"Healer Almus has him…he…he thinks that because he had fluid in his lungs and was so premature that he's not healing how he shou…should be!" Harry cried desperately as he fell into Nasta's arms. "He might have to be readmitted to the hospital."
Harry watched Nasta swallow hard and he closed his eyes. He knew how difficult this was for all of them and having Calix in the hospital again was only going to add to their stress, but if it's what Calix needed, he would keep him in the hospital.
"You couldn't have waited five more minutes for us to go with you?" He sighed.
Harry shook his head. "He needed a Healer. He wasn't getting better and time was of the essence!" He said dramatically.
Nasta nodded instead of arguing, this had been a new thing for the last week and Harry thought it was because Nasta was just too tired, he wasn't sleeping properly and his appetite had started to dwindle. He was going to make himself sick and Harry couldn't deal with a sick mate on top of two sick children. He just couldn't. The stress of this was going to kill him.
"We shall stay here if you…are you allowed to go and see him?" Myron cut himself off to ask, Tegan was up on his shoulder and she was giggling as Richard pulled faces behind Myron's back, but even as he pulled another face, he gave them a concerned, saddened look.
"I can't say goodbye to Calix too." Harry whispered in the quiet that followed, the only noise was of the babies playing and Tegan's giggles. "We can go back for Calix, but Healer Almus said I had to wait outside for a bit."
"Come on then, let's get back to the hospital." Max said, looking pale and sick himself.
"Keep us informed." Myron said as he sat on the settee, sitting Tegan on his knee and bouncing her, Tegan screeching in utter delight.
"If…if we're longer than their dinner time, they have jars in the top cupboard. Regan doesn't like anything with sweet potato." Harry said hesitantly.
"We have them in hand and I'm sure that Max has a book of their likes and dislikes in the kitchen."
Max nodded. "Top, middle drawer in the counter that faces the kitchen."
"Get going then." Myron encouraged and Harry found himself flooing back to the hospital, landing on wobbly feet as all the floo travel in such a short amount of time affected his balance and his stomach it seemed as he was a little queasy.
Draco wrapped an arm around him and Blaise came to him on his other side, holding and supporting him and giving him comfort too as he let his head drop to Draco's pectoral muscle and he let his two mates escort him to the family waiting room that they had spent so much time waiting for news on Leolin.
This was all wrong and backward, this shouldn't be happening to his two youngest children, no…it shouldn't be happening to his children at all! He wanted to scream and rage and attack, but he knew that that wouldn't make him feel any better, he had given into those instincts and twice his children had paid the price for it, he didn't want to think on how this was affecting his unborn twins.
The anxious waiting on tenterhooks was not something that Harry had missed and as the minutes passed like hours, he couldn't stop himself from leaping out of his seat and pacing as much as he could, out of the reach of his mates, who would likely pull him back down in aggravation, but he needed to expel his restless, nervous energy and this was the safest way that he could think of.
Healer Almus came into the waiting room and at once, Harry wasn't the only one on his feet waiting anxiously for the exhausted looking man to start speaking.
"Calix has been readmitted to the hospital. He should be fine…"
"You said that before!" Draco cut in angrily.
"Calix was healing fine while in the hospital, but I believe he was discharged too quickly and the potion given to him wasn't strong enough to knock the problem on the head. He hasn't gotten any worse, but he hasn't improved either. The potion prevented the virus from spreading or getting any worse, but it wasn't strong enough to help aid Calix in fighting it off. He's on a higher dosage now…"
"How high?" Max demanded and Harry knew that look on his face, if it was one thing that Max knew better than anything else, it was potions. He would know immediately how serious things were from the dosage prescribed to Calix. Harry loved him more in that moment as he would tell them exactly how bad things were and he wouldn't use medical speak to do it.
"We've put him on a three millilitre dosage three times a day."
"That's double what he was taking before!" Harry said aghast, it had been a struggle to get Calix to eat enough to give him the one point five millilitres of potion.
"We've been having trouble trying to get him to eat." Max said, straight to the point and deadly serious. "We won't be able to feed him enough to support a three millilitre dosage and not three times a day."
"We've injected the first dose directly into his bloodstream, we will continue to do this while he's here, by the time he leaves we would like to see an improvement to his appetite, then we shall release him back into your care. I promise that he will improve this time."
"On a three millilitre dosage I damn well expect it." Max said tightly.
"Calix will be fine?" Nasta questioned.
Healer Almus nodded his head once.
"How is Leolin?" He asked next.
The Healer pulled a face and closed his eyes, steeling himself.
"He has taken milk this afternoon, as you know, Harry fed him…but shortly after you left he brought it back up."
"He…that's new, he hasn't done that before!" Harry said panicked.
"His vitals dropped after he'd vomited, we may have to put him back on the ventilator, just to help ease his breathing. He's struggling."
Harry felt like he'd been poleaxed, he could hear the blood rushing in his ears and his world sort of tipped to the one side. It wasn't until Draco grabbed him and picked him up that he realised that he'd been swaying and his knees had gone from under him.
They all remembered the four days that Leolin had spent on the ventilator last week, how awful he'd looked and how…how utterly still he'd been and how worried they'd been that they would get that dreaded floo call in the middle of the night.
Leolin had improved to the point where he could breathe on his own again and they had taken that as such a good sign, to be told now that that improvement was wiped away in a mere hour was devastating. Leolin had been in the hospital for two weeks; Harry didn't know how much more he could take without his brain splitting right down the middle. This was going to make him insane, he knew it.
October saw Lucius Malfoy launching a full scale lawsuit against the Daily Prophet, who had published an article about Calix being readmitted to the hospital before he had declared his intent to sue them for the previous article, which meant that they were doubly in trouble and though the lawsuit didn't make the mainstream news, as the Daily Prophet was one of only two newspapers that wizarding Britain read, the second being a paper for world news, everyone knew about Lucius Malfoy suing the paper from the Ministry grapevine. This was helped along when the story had been published in the Quibbler, courtesy of Luna Lovegood, who was now co-editor along with her Father. The magazine had sold out just three hours after it had gone on sale and had had to go back into re-print.
Amelle had started nesting and Caesar had flooed over to them and told them that she apologised heavily for not being able to hold on for longer in such a family crisis, but Harry waved him away.
"It's fine, I know more than anyone that it can't be helped. I mean, hell when I went into my nest with Braiden it was the afternoon of my seventeenth birthday! No, just make sure that she and the baby are okay and watch after this cutie." Harry said as he chucked Eleonora under the chin and she burbled happily at him, her chubby cheeks flushed with her laughter.
Calix was released from the hospital on the fourth of October, he was eating happily and the higher dosage seemed to have knocked his virus on its head, finally, and he was back to fighting sleep, eating heartily and even playing for short amounts of time, though he still slept and rested for the majority of the day, regaining his strength. His bad cough however persisted.
The Faeries had been in touch several times in the last two weeks, demanding that they answer their questions, but none of them were particularly in the mood to entertain the pompous Faeries, so they were ignored, at least until Sindri, the head of the court, contacted them personally. Aneirin and Nasta both agreed that to ignore the head of the court was an insult that they couldn't afford to give the Faeries.
The ninth of October, the day after Sindri had contacted them, saw Dain and Kailen standing in their living room, none of them were in the mood to play musical houses and switch around to Marianna's house when the Healers would be contacting them at their house and Harry was not missing any news on Leolin because Dain and fucking Kailen were pushing themselves onto his family.
There was a stony silence as they, along with the non-negotiable bodyguards that they had to bring with them as members of the court, stood facing off against one another; the only good thing about this was that one of the bodyguards was Warren, though the other was unknown to them.
"Where is Leolin?" Dain asked, finally breaking the lengthy silence.
"He's in the hospital." Nasta answered. "As you well know. I told Sindri this yesterday and you read the papers yourselves."
"We did not know which babe was in the hospital." Kailen said placatingly, giving Dain a stern look. "Is Leolin well?"
"He's in the hospital!" Harry hissed. "Of course he's not well!"
Nasta pressed a hand to his arm and soothed him gently.
"Leolin has been sick now for over four weeks. He improves and then he relapses and then he improves again. He is currently doing well. He is fighting so very hard to continue living and we are doing our all to help him, the Healers who are looking after him haven't left the hospital since Leolin was admitted. We are doing everything that we possibly can to help him."
"May we ask what happened?" Kailen asked gently.
"He got sick." Harry said, also lowering his voice and lowering his shoulders. "Bronchiolitis, a lung infection."
"Most Faerie babies do not survive lung infections, especially not those who were born premature." Dain said and Harry's eyes blistered with his anger which came surging back. He'd always had a temper.
"How dare you say such a thing to us when we're already destroyed over this! Do you have any idea how hard this last month has been for all of us?! How hard it is to visit Leolin day after day in the same hospital room! We know the odds, but it has been a month already and he is still alive, so fuck you both! You can give up on him and brush him aside like he's already dead, but I can't! I WON'T!"
Nasta pulled him into a hug and a look up at him showed Harry that he was glaring poisonously at Dain and Kailen, even as his gentle hands comforted him and his soft voice soothed him.
"Calm yourself, Harry. You don't need this stress." Nasta was murmuring over and over.
"You are pregnant again." Warren said sharply, Harry was surprised by his observation; he hadn't even started showing yet.
Harry nodded. "Three months."
"The stress of this will not be good for your new baby." The Faerie guard said concernedly.
Harry shook his head. "No, it's not. I'm having twins…I've been stressed all through their main growth period, which makes me more stressed and worried about the damage I'm doing to them that I can't even see."
"Have you had one of your medic personnel check the two babes over?" Warren asked with a frown.
Harry nodded. "I'm being very well taken care of; it's just the stress of Leolin and Calix being sick."
"Is…is Calix still sick too?" Kailen asked, trying to show an interest in the other babies, which earned him a few brownie points at least, but not many.
Harry turned, took several steps across the living room and picked Calix up from the playpen. He was almost completely back to normal and had had his dosage dropped now that he had visibly improved and was much better. It was just that persistent cough that was heart wrenching to hear from one so very young.
"He's okay. He's getting better with the right medication." Harry said as he kissed Calix, who giggled and threw his arms around Harry and hugged him. He'd been allowed to have his third Dragon Pox vaccine and his little arm was still bruised from it, but even that was fading and Harry hugged him back tightly, accepting the sticky kiss that Calix gave him. He couldn't believe that he could have lost his baby Calix, this sweet, loving, bubbly boy.
"Max, can you get a wet wipe please, he's still got peach juice on his face, it makes him taste gorgeous, but he's sticky." Harry said with a tired smile.
"Come here my boy." Max said, clapping his hands to get Calix's attention and then holding them out to accept him when Harry handed him over.
The Faeries watched everything with stern, judgemental eyes and Harry wanted to jam his claws into their eyes. He wasn't going to win any awards for world's best Mum, he knew that, but he was doing a damn good job in his opinion, he was doing his damned best and that's all anyone could ask of him. His children were clean and happy, were well fed and they were loved. Calix had gotten sick and had passed it to Leolin. At the end of the day, that was all that had happened and it couldn't have been prevented.
"I suppose you think you could have done a better job?" He demanded furiously, unable to keep silent as his anger grew.
Warren shook his head. "It is a good thing that Leolin was with you, we had an outbreak of Dragon Pox in the city, a merchant brought his illegitimate human daughter into our walls and she was carrying the disease, even though she was protected from it by her vaccinations. We lost eleven children; we only have three of them left to us."
"Is Ezrah alright?" Harry asked quickly, remembering the sweet Fae who had been kind to him and had gushed over Leolin, he remembered that he'd been trying to conceive a baby with his Valkyrie, Lathen.
"How do you know Ezrah?" Dain demanded suspiciously as he looked from the unknown Faerie on his left to Kailen and Warren beside him, on his right.
"I met him the last time I was in the city." Harry replied with narrowed eyes.
"Ezrah is fine, he is an adult, just barely maybe, but he is an adult and such diseases cannot harm him." Warren explained kindly.
"I know that, but he was trying to conceive."
"He has thus far been unsuccessful. He is still young." Warren said. "We have however lost our youngest Faerie babe living in the city. Niobe died half a moon turn ago, her parents have been inconsolable. We have lost several teenagers and one boy who was on the cusp of manhood. His death came as a huge blow to us and the city. He'd had a very promising future."
"I'm sorry for the children that you've lost." Harry said sincerely, thinking about how close he was to losing Leolin and how close he'd come to losing Calix too.
"Leolin is the youngest Faerie babe known to the court." Dain told them. "We have lost all others and for that, our city is grieving. To hear that Leolin may not make it either…prayers are being sent to the gods in the house of worship for him, I think most, if not all of the Faerie city is sending strength to him."
Harry didn't know what to think about that. He'd thought, they'd all thought, that the Faeries would try to snatch Leolin from them as quickly as they could because of his illness. Yet here were Dain and Kailen, telling them that nearly all of the Faerie city was praying for his son's health instead.
Of course the information on the Faerie city and the outbreak of Dragon Pox made more sense. They definitely would not risk one of the only remaining Faerie babies by taking him to a city riddled with Dragon Pox.
"Please sit down." Harry offered, indicating the settee behind them.
"We would prefer to remain…"
"You sit down because I've told you too and I'm three months pregnant and I can't remain standing up for a minute longer." Harry hissed.
Nasta escorted him to the settee and sat him down and sat beside him as his mates sat around him. Aneirin was also there for the visit, but he was staying silent as he took the armchair which offered him the best position to protect the playpen that the babies were playing in. Warren had barely taken his eyes from Aneirin, who had either noticed and was ignoring the Faerie, or he was completely and utterly oblivious to the amount of scrutiny that he was being placed under.
"Have the Healers told you anything of Leolin's chances?" Dain asked as he sat uncomfortably on the settee adjacent to the one that Harry was sat on.
"The mere fact that he is still alive after a month is a good sign, but other than that, there isn't much to go on. He has his good days and bad ones." Nasta said simply. "As I said he improves and then he relapses. We don't know what's going to happen, but we do know that he is going to be sick for a long time, but we have the best Healers that we could find with him and, again as I said, they haven't left the hospital once since he was admitted."
"They know how delicate he is? How to care for him as a Faerie?" Kailen asked with deep concern.
Harry nodded. "Healer Cole has fifty years of experience in caring for sick magical creature babies."
"Healer Jasper Cole?" Warren asked, a hint of relief in his voice.
Harry nodded. "Yes, you know of him?"
"He helps a lot of the Faerie babes we have when they get sick and he has saved more than a few of them. We trust him."
"He, along with Healer Almus, have been looking after Leolin to the very best of their abilities. We trust them both to keep Leolin as healthy as they can, but we…we also trust them to…to keep him comfortable if he…if he does give in." Harry stumbled thickly.
Nasta wrapped an arm around him and he felt Max's hand gently petting his hair. Only Max's hands were big enough to encompass the whole of his head and since Max's hands had fully healed from the abuse he'd put them through, he'd been using them more and more having realised just how much he did with them when he was unable to use them properly.
"Mama." Braiden called out, standing up and reaching his hands out of the playpen for him. "Mama, up."
Harry couldn't help smiling at his little boy as he eased himself up carefully and went to scoop Braiden up and out of the playpen.
"That is one of your Dracken sons, yes?" Kailen asked.
Harry nodded. "My first born child and the first of my Dracken children."
"You have one other?" Dain questioned as he looked at Braiden like a curious oddity.
"Yes, Farren is a Dracken also." Harry said, nodding to Farren, who was in a bouncer beside Aneirin's chair, just lounging and watching everyone around him.
"The other three are human?"
"Yes, two wizards and a witch." Harry confirmed and he sighed.
Dain and Kailen were trying, but they were hundreds of years old and they just didn't know how to act or what to do or say. They weren't being knowingly malicious or insensitive, they just didn't understand and Harry felt sorry for them. He wondered how many Faerie babies they'd seen die over the centuries and how many of those had been relatives. Now that Leolin was in the hospital, their last and only Faerie relative for a hundred years…he could see their sadness and the helplessness that he himself felt.
"You're welcome to see him when he comes out of the hospital." Harry offered in a moment of kindness and shared compassion. "You can't visit him inside the hospital, the Healers won't allow it because the more people around him, the more risk he's in, but I'm positive that he will recover and he will come home."
The look they gave him, that sad look like he was a small, disillusioned child made him want to take back the empathetic offer for them to see Leolin. His son would come home; to think otherwise was condemning Leolin to death while he was still alive and fighting for his life. He wouldn't do it.
"Thank you, that is kind." Warren answered. At least he had the sensitivity and the intelligence to keep the scepticism off of his face.
Harry sneered at the four of them and turned to Braiden on his lap, playing with him instead. He had missed playing with his children, but with Calix home and Leolin having a good day when they'd visited him that morning, his heart was lighter. Now he just wanted Leolin home and his twin children to be born quickly, easily and healthily and hopefully they could put this dark cloud to rest.
"I think we'll say goodbye now." Nasta said firmly. "We're needed at the hospital in half an hour and we need to prepare. Thank you for coming to see us, but you've got what you came for. We'll keep in contact with the court about Leolin's health, but until then, we would like you to leave."
"You cannot dismiss a member of the court from your presence…" The unknown Faerie started angrily and offended on behalf of the two Faeries that he was there to protect and serve, but Dain cut him off with a raised hand.
"This is their home; they have the right to ask us to leave." Dain said with a respectful nod at Nasta. "Trefor wouldn't have stood to have anyone in his home a minute longer than he wanted them there. You remind me of him very much."
Nasta swallowed back what was likely an insult, but Aneirin cleared his throat and stopped him.
"Thank you for coming." Nasta said instead, but his eyes were shouting that he really wanted to tell them that he wanted to flay them inch by inch until they were raw and screaming.
"Please keep us informed of Leolin and we hope to come and visit again soon, once Leolin is out of the hospital." Kailen said with a small smile and a nod to Harry.
Nasta saw them out of the front door and Harry relaxed back with a happy groan.
"I'm so glad that they're gone." He said.
Braiden giggled at him as Harry sunk in the seat and Harry pulled him flat on his chest with a playful growl before he tickled him.
Braiden screeched in utter joy. "Mama no! Mama no!" He cried out as he giggled, his body wriggling.
Nasta came back in and smirked at them both. "If you could see what you both look like." He said as he shook his head, pulling Braiden up and brushing away his happy tears from laughter flushed cheeks. He kissed one of those cheeks before he placed Braiden on the floor to play and pulled Harry up.
"I'll get us a snack." Max said as he pushed himself to his feet. "We'll need something before we go back to the hospital."
"Thank you, Max, nothing too heavy for Harry though. His morning sickness is getting worse."
"I feel okay." Harry replied, patting his belly. "They're settled at the moment."
"I can't wait to meet them." Draco said with a smile. "I wonder if they're girls or boys."
"Still genderless at the moment." Harry said.
Though he'd had another scan in September and gotten a blurry photo for it. His one twin was tucked up, knees to chin and ankles crossed over where the genitals would be and no amount of prodding would move the baby. The second twin was spooning the first, arms tucked into chest, forehead resting against the back of the first baby and of course, genitals covered by the back of the first baby.
It was frustrating, not knowing, but it made everything so much more exciting and with Amelle now nesting without knowing the gender beforehand, Harry was wondering, along with half of the family, if Amelle would have a boy or a girl and the excitement was running thick through the family. Caesar was practically vibrating as he counted the days until his new son or daughter was born and he was free to bug the family, along with a year old Eleonora, until Myron lost his temper with his younger son and hauled him away to calm him down. That had made Harry laugh.
The tenth of October had brought Harry a shock and more happiness. Henley sent him another letter, his handwriting quick and excited and Harry could just picture him bouncing and vibrating as he wrote the letter. Anabel, his mate, had had her second baby on the seventh of October. A boy. A boy that they had named Harry Henley Jackson.
Max had snatched the letter from him when he had frozen in shock and ignored the questioning of his mates. He had boomed out a laugh and almost doubled over with his amusement.
"The baby dom named his son Harry!" He told the others. "He named his first born son after the submissive that he couldn't have!"
"It wasn't like that!" Harry denied immediately, but everyone was laughing now and he rolled his eyes at them exasperatedly.
"I can't wait to meet baby Harry." Max said.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"The baby dom, Henley, he's going to bring his two babies to come and see you once his mate is feeling more settled and has healed up."
Harry snatched the letter back and read the rest of the letter, read everything that came after the announcement that Henley had named his newborn son after him and there at the bottom was the promise to come and visit him in the New Year with his mate and his two children, Claudia and baby Harry.
He was of course excited to see Henley, but he'd be sure to remind him that he had to come after February, when he'd nested and given birth to his twins. He still couldn't believe that Henley had named his first born son Harry and it wasn't just a coincidence, but he'd named his son for him. Him, of all people! He'd be sure to ask what the hell Henley had been thinking when he'd made that decision, but until then, he put the letter safe and he smiled at the enclosed photo of a happy, but exhausted Anabel holding the newborn Harry and an excited, grinning Henley who was holding sweet little Claudia, who was almost a year old now.
"I can't wait to see Henley again; I've missed that little puppy."
"I don't think he'd like you calling him a puppy. He's a Father now." Nasta pointed out.
"He looks just the same! And he's only seventeen." Harry almost cooed, like he'd used to when Henley had been trying to court him.
"He's almost eighteen." Blaise pointed out.
Harry nodded. "This December. Claudia turns a year old on the fourth and he'll be eighteen on the seventeenth. He's so cute though!"
Draco came and kissed him. "You're adorable when you gush."
"I do not gush!" Harry said, prodding Draco.
"I like it when you gush." He said as he laid a kiss on his neck, arms around his waist and hands cupped on his belly.
"Are we talking about the same thing now? I like gushing in some ways." Harry said naughtily.
"Always one to lower the tone." Max said with a grin. "I love it."
"I knew you would." Harry smiled, then he sighed. "I hope Leolin is home from the hospital for Christmas."
"Two months is a long time away." Blaise assured him. "A lot can happen in two months."
"I know, but I do want Leolin home for Christmas and his birthday and everything that comes after."
"I know you do. We all do." Nasta said, pulling him into a kiss. "Until then, let's get something to eat and then we can go and visit him, we can keep hoping and with some luck and perhaps some help from his Dracken blood, Leolin will pull through and we can shove all of this behind us."
Harry smiled and he nodded. Over a month Leolin had been fighting and the Faeries themselves had said how rare that was, he took that as a good sign that Leolin would survive this damnable virus and he was not going to let anyone rip that hope away from him, it was all that was keeping him clinging to his sanity and he knew that even if Leolin was released from the hospital, it would be a long while before he was fully recovered, if he ever did fully recover, but he didn't care what it took or if he had to look after Leolin for the rest of his life, he damn well would and he'd do it without complaint and with a happy smile, just as long as he still had his Leolin.
A/N: The next chapter should be the last in this tear-jerking clump. I'm hoping it'll span to December, the beginning of December, not Christmas, but I'm still hoping to get the story that far in the next chapter.
Huge thanks to Lizzosaur, who was the 10,900th reviewer for this story.
A massive thanks to Tamara, one of my Facebookers, who did a picture for this period in the story:
mystkyten dot net/Poorbaby dot html
There are absolutely no questions to answer this time around, which I have to say is a first, I'm almost at a loss for what to say and do now!
So I think keeping this short and sweet is the best way to go, thank you so much for reading, thank you so much for reviewing and letting me know what you think and feel about what's happening and I hope you've enjoyed it,
StarLight Massacre. X