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******** ******** ******** Chapter 43 ******** ******** ********
Padma had given birth a week into March...almost ten days late. Harry and Draco had visited as soon as they got the news. The new baby was a sweet but chubby little girl named Yasmin Mary Boot.
"NO!" Lyra shouted less than a week later.
It was mid-March and the Malfoy-Potters were getting ready to visit the Weasley family home for dinner because Penny had just gotten home from her own stint at St. Mungo's. Amethyst Violet Weasley was a whole month early and joined the clan just over twenty hours ago...and that meant the family had to gather. Harry and Andromeda were probably ready and waiting but Lyra had refused anyone's help but his.
Draco stepped back from his daughter as she tried to pull her jumper on by herself. "Let Daddy help you, Lyra."
"I don't wanna!" She grouchily huffed as her hand got stuck in the sleeve. "I do it!"
He sighed. "Alright, then…Do it."
Harry came into the room with Teddy in one arm and Caelum in the other. "What's going on here?"
"I tried to help her but she wants to dress herself." Draco shrugged. "You and Andy should go on to the Burrow. I'll be along shortly."
"Andy already left but I hate to leave you…" Harry hated leaving without knowing Draco was right behind him but supper at the Weasleys wouldn't wait. "Alright, don't be long, love…Lyra – be good for Daddy."
Draco watched him go and then got an idea. He took his own jumper off and proceeded to show her how it went on. Soon she was fully dressed and they were on their way.
Harry paced the floor as he waited for Draco and their daughter. His son and godson had run off with the other children as soon as they'd been set on the floor and all he wanted was the rest of his family in sight. His separation anxiety was worse than his one and a half year old childrens'. He got frustrated and forced himself to turn toward the door, but when the floo activated he completed the spin to see his lovely Dragon stepping out of the fireplace. Harry smiled until he realized that Draco had one hand over his mouth. Before the brunette could blink, he was handed his little girl and Draco was on his knees beside the nearest waste bin. Harry sighed and stood his daughter on her own two feet. Suddenly, Teddy came running up and took her hand as they both ran off at full speed leaving Harry to stare after them.
When he reached Draco's side, the blond was just cleaning himself up.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked.
Draco looked up at him tear tracks lining his pale cheeks. "I don't know how long this is going to last, Harry…I don't know if I can deal with another pregnancy like this. I was spoiled the first time, Harry."
Harry took a clean cloth from the cupboard and wet it before gently wiping the tears away. Once Draco's pale face was clean and dry he wrapped his arms around the blond. "I still spoil you…don't I?"
Draco sighed but allowed Harry's arms to hold him close. "Silly prat... I meant that I was spoiled by the low maintenance pregnancy symptoms and you know it, Harry. You always spoil me." Harry kissed him lightly but Draco tipped his head back. "I spelled my mouth clean..."
Harry's worry dissipated slightly as he gave in to the passive demand. He pressed his lips heavily down onto Draco's and held him close as he plundered his mouth. The blond whimpered under the assault but they were interrupted by someone clearing their throat.
"Erm, sorry to interrupt…supper is being served, lads." It was Charlie's husband, Gus and he was holding Corvus in his arms with an amused smirk.
Harry grinned down at his husband. "Looks like we got caught."
Draco chuckled to hide his disappointment. "We'll just have to wait until later…"
Harry sighed. At least Draco didn't seem as depressed as he had earlier. Maybe more sex would cheer him up. He'd sneak the blond into their room after a few hours of being social and see if it helped.
Later, as Harry and Draco slipped back into the crowded house, Andromeda smirked at them. Her amusement was contagious and led to giggles from the girls while the men just snickered.
Draco sighed and grimaced. "Well?"
"Caught again, lads!" Charlie grinned widely at them. "We may not have noticed your absence but your little ones sure did. They both started to cry and the next we knew ... we heard your voices."
"That wasn't something I needed to hear, mates." Ron smirked and shook his head.
Harry closed his eyes and hid his face in his hands with his fingers spread.
"Quite mysteriously they both calmed as soon as they heard the noises coming from your room." George snickered.
Harry fought a laugh but quickly lost.
"Their accidental magic must have removed the wards I had placed, Harry." Draco bit his lip while poorly concealing his amusement.
The room erupted in laughter and only Teddy noticed that his grandmother was acting strangely. He was sitting on her lap and while everyone laughed at his uncles, she'd gotten a little breathless.
"Gramma? Gramma okay?" He asked softly tugging at the hand that was pressing against her temple.
Andromeda blinked down at him and Teddy could tell that she was confused. He started to cry loudly which attracted the group's attention.
Harry was the first to reach the boy and scoop him up. "What's wrong, Teddy?"
Teddy's hair turned into his grandmother's and he wouldn't stop crying.
A horrible feeling overtook Harry as he turned to face Andy. She looked back at him with confusion and tried to reach out. Her right hand didn't leave her side though her left was able to reach shoulder height.
Harry quickly passed Teddy into Draco's lap and sat beside Andromeda. "Arthur...?" Harry looked up at the older man as he took her hand in his.
"Molly has already gone to floo the healer, son." Arthur said sadly.
Draco looked back and forth between them slowly rocking Teddy in his arms as Harry carefully helped the older woman lie down on the couch. "Harry, my mother needs to know about this…"
Harry looked at Ron who simply nodded and rushed up the stairs to send off an owl. Green eyes closed, thankful that he had friends as loyal and supportive as the people surrounding him.
Harry, Lucius, Arthur and Molly waited in the kitchen while the Healer performed a few tests. His in-laws had arrived within minutes of receiving Ron's owl and the children had long since been put to bed by the remaining family members. Ron and Hermione had Lyra upstairs with them and their daughter Angelica. Caelum had opted to go with Charlie, Gus and Corvus rather than the 'girls' and Teddy was tucked into Harry's room while Arthur and Molly kept vigil with him and the Malfoys.
Harry stared out the window as Narcissa and Draco attempted to calm each other. "We knew this day would come…"
"Harry…" Lucius began quietly. "You don't always have to be strong, son."
"Yes I do. Of course I do." Harry whispered back, not looking at the older man as he tried to blink away tears. "Who'll be strong for Draco … or for Teddy and the twins? I have to be strong for them – so I can comfort them…"
"You're only one person, Harry!" Molly broke in. "You're not alone in this world. You have family…friends…Draco."
"Do you recall the day you requested Draco's hand?" Lucius' expression bordered on cold but Harry knew better by now. His father-in-law was actually just sad and didn't wish to show it.
Harry nodded, unsure of where he was going with this.
"My son chased you out of that classroom and down the hall…all because of your words to us that day." Lucius sighed softly. "He later divulged a little of the discussion that followed in the headmistress' office and I would like to remind you of some of it. He told me what you said about wanting someone to love. He said you spoke of couples you knew and how they laughed and cried together…how you wanted to hold someone and be held by that same particular someone in times of loss and hardship…you also wanted to fight side by side with that someone rather than always being the hero."
Harry nodded slowly, recalling more and more of that day as the older man spoke.
"This is your chance, Harry." Lucius went on. "You cannot be strong enough for eight people on your own…but if you share the burden of each other's grief then you will not need to be!"
Arthur stared at Lucius. He'd never seen this side of the man before. He mentally shook himself and joined the conversation. "I have to agree, Harry. You and Draco wouldn't have gotten this far if he hadn't at least grown to feel the same."
"Your family does need you, Harry…but they also need to feel needed by you." Lucius delicately pointed out.
Harry took a deep breath and nodded. He could do this. He had supported Draco through a pregnancy and in the first two and a half years of their marriage Draco had only needed to return the favor on a few individual occasions…this might help him feel more equal.
"If you don't mind me saying so…You all seem to be forgetting that Mrs. Tonks isn't gone yet." The healer was standing in the open doorway. "In her living will, she has asked that the Malfoy-Potters as well as Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy be kept informed of her health status so if the four of you would kindly remain in the room while Mr. and Mrs. Weasley step out…"
Molly and Arthur called Narcissa and Draco back inside before heading up to bed. Harry held his arms open in invitation and was gratified when Draco didn't hesitate to take his place. Narcissa took a more reserved stance – simply sitting in the chair next to her husband.
"Mrs. Tonks' living will states that the four of you are to be consulted when it comes to her health. I'm afraid there's no way to soften the blow in this case: Mrs. Tonks has experienced a stroke." The healer sighed. She always hated to give out bad news. "It is very unfortunate but she is likely to have another in the next few months and as of this moment, even magic doesn't have a solution to this problem."
"What should we expect from now on, Healer?" Harry asked sadly as his husband leaned into him for support.
"Well, as you have seen, her right side has been weakened so she will need help with anything she would normally do with that side." The healer frowned. "She will also need help with a lot of her normal daily tasks – from bathing to dressing. Her memory will not be very reliable, so I wouldn't leave her alone with the children."
Narcissa couldn't keep her tears from falling. She turned to her husband. "I think she should live with us. She would likely prefer me taking care of her physical needs as opposed to the boys."
Lucius took this in stride simply nodding his acceptance and glancing toward his son-in-law.
Harry fought to keep his voice steady as he turned to look at his husband. "Draco…I love our home and would hate to abandon it but I would like to propose that – until Andy passes – we live in the manor with her and your parents."
Lucius shook his head. "Out of the question – both of you."
Draco stared up at his father as if he knew what the older man was thinking.
"Your mother and I will join all of you at Nettlestone." Lucius spoke decisively to his son before fixing his gaze upon Harry. "It is far easier to move two people rather than six."
Frowning, Harry sighed; discouraged that he hadn't thought of that but comforted by Draco's presence in his arms.
"Mrs. Malfoy, I'll teach you the spells and charms that will help keep her comfortable." The healer smiled sadly at the family. "Now then, Mr. Malfoy-Potter, I am given to understand that you have access to an accomplished Master of Potions…"
Harry nodded. "That's right, Healer. My husband is apprenticed under Potions Master Aloysius Loveday."
Nodding back, she conjured parchment, ink and a quill and began to write. "As Mr. Malfoy-Potter is pregnant at the moment, he cannot brew some of the potions Mrs. Tonks requires. Would Master Loveday be able to brew them?"
"I'm certain Al will be agreeable to the task." Harry nodded and gave Draco the list of potions she'd just handed him. "Thank you, Healer."
She patted his hand comfortingly as she stood to lead Narcissa to her sister.
Harry turned to his husband with tears in his eyes.
Draco quickly slipped the list into his pocket and opened his arms just in time for Harry to walk into them.
Relieved, Lucius nodded to his surprised son and hid a smile as he went to find his wife.
It took less time to integrate the elder Malfoys to the regular routine at Nettlestone than it had Teddy and Andromeda. Al instantly agreed to brew Andromeda's potions when Harry asked and with Narcissa taking care of Andy, Lucius stoically began helping Draco and Harry with the twins and Teddy. He changed nappies side by side with his son and son-in-law daily. After watching several of Harry's 'lessons' with the children, Lucius chimed in with a few tidbits of his own – even going so far as to offer to speak with the boys when they reached an age to understand being heirs of their respective families. This pleased both Harry and Draco, though Draco insisted on joining those discussions as well.
With Narcissa and Lucius joining the household, all of the Malfoy elves came along for the ride. Most notable was a young elf named Lolli who helped in Andy's sick room but hoped to learn about babies and maybe assist in the nursery one day. Harry was glad because this allowed for Narcissa to take some time for herself even while caring for her sister. He didn't want to see his mother-in-law become overtaxed by the burden she'd taken on. He made sure to include her in conversation as well as daily plans even though she just sat with Andy most of the time.
Teddy still liked visiting his grandmother but it sometimes upset him to hear her slurred speech. He wouldn't scream or cry but Harry noticed that the little boy would get very quiet and withdrawn. This always led to a swift exit and some alone-time with Uncle Harry.
Harry felt for the boy. He didn't really know what his godson was going through because he'd never had a loving caretaker as a child and lost them...but he loved Andy and he'd lost people he loved before. To say it wasn't a pleasant experience was a massive understatement and it was now Harry's job to help him make it through. When the brunette got sad or frustrated with the situation, he turned to his husband for comfort and was welcomed with open arms.
Draco found peace of mind in Harry's arms and he was able to return the favor. It was his favorite place to be anyway and it was never one sided.
The tension got high at times and sometimes it seemed like they were just waiting for Death to come take Andromeda. The healer had visited and informed the family that she wasn't improving and seemed to be in a sort of limbo state. She offered more specialized healers that functioned liked muggle physical and occupational therapists. Harry and Narcissa agreed to meet with these specialists at their convenience.
Two days passed and the specialists finally owled. They would be able to visit that evening.
The waiting was inflaming tempers so Draco suggested going shopping in Diagon Alley for the afternoon.
"That's a great idea! We need a gift for Hermione and Ron's new baby anyway." Harry grinned. "We'll take Teddy with us."
Lucius agreed that he and the elves would take care of the twins so they found the little boy who squealed happily when told of the planned outing.
Harry braided Draco's hair and once the three of them were all dressed and ready they used the floo to get to the Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes store.
George looked up from the paperwork he'd been filling out. "Well hello there! How are you three?" He got up and hugged his visitors.
Harry answered for all of them. "We're alright, George. We just needed a break from everything at the house. What's new here?"
George went quiet and looked around as if someone were spying on them. Then he leaned forward and whispered to the trio. "You didn't hear this from me..."
Harry smirked thinking of the crazy things that went on at the Burrow and what chaos some accidental magic might cause. "Heard what?"
Teddy giggled and hid his face in Draco's thigh while the blond just pursed his lips.
George grinned and began to tell the story. "So yesterday, Ron was constructing the new crib and Angelica wanted attention but only her daddy would do, so she wasn't happy at all when he wouldn't play with her…"
Teddy looked at George with Harry's wide green eyes.
"Quite suddenly lights began to flicker." George grinned with an evil light in his eyes. "And doors slammed all around the Burrow and then the crib…Well, that poor crib…" His face fell in false sadness as his lips still twitched in amusement.
Harry was already chuckling but he knew it would get worse when he heard the pause so he held up one finger and caught his breath.
Draco had covered his mouth with one hand and closed his eyes to hide his mirth but he couldn't help himself. He choked out an encouraging remark. "Please, George?"
"Please Unca George?" Teddy tugged at the redhead's tunic. "More! Don't leave us in sis-pants!"
Harry bit his lip and whimpered. "Ted, the word is 'suspense'…not sis-pants."
Draco let out a low snicker and Teddy shrugged with a high pitched giggle.
The redhead simply smiled at his audience as he finished the story. "The poor crib exploded into a thousand tiny bits! Completely …utterly and magically irreparable." George's blue eyes twinkled as Harry's widened.
He certainly wasn't laughing anymore. "A two and a half year old child rendered an object magically irreparable?"
George nodded once with a smirk before going on. "Mum and Dad are thinking of buying them a new one that's spelled to assemble itself."
"That would be costly." Harry frowned.
"With dad's salary being raised again this year, they can afford it." George assured him.
"She's my goddaughter. I should be around to play with her more and maybe this wouldn't have happened." Harry sighed. "That's the gift we'll bring them on the day their son is born."
Draco frowned at his husband. "I agree that Angie needs more of our attention and I agree that we'll buy the crib but this isn't your fault. She's just a powerful young witch whose accidental magic played havoc with the object of her anger."
"As you blew up your aunt…she blew up the crib that was keeping her daddy away from her." George told them quietly. "Draco's correct, Harry. It isn't anyone's fault."
Harry sighed but nodded a grudging acceptance. "I'll need a quill and parchment to write your parents." He chuckled again as he thought of the absurdity of such a small child being so magically powerful as this. He took the parchment and then the quill and set about writing. He told Molly and Arthur that he'd heard Ron and Hermione needed a new crib for the baby and that he hoped they hadn't bought a replacement yet because he wanted it to be his gift to his friends.
The owl was sent and returned quickly with the reply that the Weasley parents had planned to go shopping for the crib that very afternoon and as such it was a task they would happily leave to Harry.
Draco, Harry and little Teddy spent the first hour looking for the crib and once they'd purchased it, they took Teddy to Fortescue's ice cream shop. Teddy watched as several people were served ahead of them. The colors and flavors were many and varied but it didn't take long for him to spot his favorite. They walked out with cones and strolled through Diagon Alley while Draco held Teddy's hand.
Thanks for sticking around guys! Not long til the completion of this story! I hope you enjoyed!
PS- For everyone's info -
Common stroke symptoms seen in both men and women:
1 Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body
2 Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
3 Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
4 Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
5 Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Women may report unique stroke symptoms:
1 sudden face and limb pain
2 sudden hiccups
3 sudden nausea
4 sudden general weakness
5 sudden chest pain
6 sudden shortness of breath
7 sudden palpitations