A/N: This is from Severus's perspective. It's quite short, but there wasn't anything I could do to avoid that without the chapter feeling awkward.
The residual noise of my apparating echoed around the small garden surrounding the Burrow. I looked at the precariously perched building as I began my steady pace towards it—and towards my wife. The light from the living room shone brightly through the window, casting a warm glow across the garden. Breathing in deeply, I felt the coolness of the air rush into my lungs and attempt to cleanse me of my conversation with Lucius. He had seemed especially giddy when discussing tactics tonight, like a child who had been given a large allowance and then free reign on Zonko's. It sat heavily in my stomach; the foreboding feeling was nearly overwhelming as I recalled the uptake in optimism Lucius had seemed to experience.
The conversation had not developed as he had intended: Lucius made no mention of his attempts to contact or attack Draco and his wife. Instead, Lucius spent his time determining which members were most expected to be at the weekend's normal Order meeting. Hermione and I had discussed if it were imperative that this information be given—she thought it unnecessary. I, however, knew it to be the key in maintaining my façade. If I did not relay accurate member information, those that trusted me as an informant would question my ability—and my loyalty. My loyalty could not be allowed to be questioned, especially given Lestrange's total distrust of me. If I were questioned by Lucius, I would be questioned by them all. I won the argument.
Muffled voices floated through the door as I neared it. I noted the upbeat atmosphere as it was a distinct change from the last few weeks since Lovegood's death. Perhaps, then, Potter had no ill news to report this week. One quick, final breath as I opened the door, my eyes ready to settle into my wife's gaze. The living room was bright and warm, despite the cooling temperatures in the garden. A fire was quietly burning on the hearth, and its light added to the hopeful atmosphere. I scanned the room quickly, taking a few steps into the room, in search of her telltale brown, curly hair.
They had dispersed themselves around the room in pairs and the occasional trio. Tonks sat with the French ladies, her hair a bright pink, talking animatedly. Remus seemed absorbed in a conversation with Potter. Mr. Weasley commanded a piece to move in his game of chess with Mr. Longbottom on the floor beside his French fiancée. Her hand ran across his neck absently while she responded to Tonks. Minerva sat at the table that doubled as a work desk in this home with Mrs. Weasley and Theodore Lupin. I watched the young child play with a bewitched feather, his eyes alight with glee. Would my own child be that giddy? Arthur and Bill sat near the fire, but it didn't seem as if a conversation was being held. I noted, also, that both George and Fred were quietly sitting with their significant others on the loveseats facing the fire. My eyes lowered in concern, and I looked over the scene once more. Where was Hermione?
The door to the hallway opened, and I immediately looked up. Mrs. Potter walked quietly into the room. She sat down quickly at the table next to Minerva. Her hands twisted together—a habit Hermione also had when she was anxious.
"Ah, there you are, Severus," Arthur spoke across the room. I looked over at him. He smiled quickly before continuing to speak. "There is food in the dining room. Help yourself. I assume that Hermione is on her way in?"
I felt my eyebrows rise on my forehead in surprise. "She left before me."
Silence stretched between us, and I felt the rest of the room still around me. I willed myself to maintain breathing normally as my hands fisted at my sides.
"How long ago? Perhaps she forgot something and had to return," offered Remus, looking up from Mr. Potter.
"More than two hours. I sent her ahead of me due to a meeting with Lucius."
The silence met me like a deafening wall. I could see the confusion begin to change their expressions, eyebrows pulling in and lips turning down. A glance to Mrs. Potter confirmed my worst suspicions. She was not here. Yet I had watched her walk across the grounds towards Hogsmeade, had watched her open the gates with a small flick of her wand. I knew that she hadn't returned to our living quarters.
"Did she by mistake Floo to Grimmauld Place?" Tonks asked, slowly standing up and moving towards her son. Her nervousness vibrated out from her as she ran a hand through his hair. He looked up from the feather for a moment to look at her. A small smile lit her face. He smiled back and returned to the feather in his hand.
A quick shake of my head. "She was supposed to have apparated. I watched her walk to Hogsmeade."
Again, I was met with silence.
There was a loud pop outside followed by the quick shuffling of feet. A moment later, the door flew open. Immediately I turned around, hoping that Hermione was the one causing the raucous. Instead, Draco stood in the doorframe, looking disheveled. His wife was in his arms, unconscious. I could see the long gash running across her collarbones. Blood wept from the wound; her shirt was soaked through. My eyes swept over her again, double checking for additional damage. Her face was ashen, and her breathing unevenly light. Everything was still for a moment.
"What happened?" Mrs. Weasley asked, rushing up to the pair. "You had only gone out for a moment!"
"Where were you?!" I demanded, stepping quickly up to Susan, evaluating her wound. Remus was just behind me.
"Are you all right, Draco? Let me see your arm," a gentle yet clear command from Remus.
Draco shook his head but swayed a bit where he was standing. "Help her, please." His voice was urgent, desperate. "I can wait. Please."
"Let me take her," I replied. I gently slid my arms underneath her, cupping her neck and knees for support. "Remus, sit him down before he loses consciousness." With light steps I crossed the room to the loveseat that George and his wife had vacated. I set Susan down gently before grabbing my wand. I waved it over her collarbone. Her skin responded nearly instantaneously, stitching itself back together. "Molly, do you have any Blood Restore Potion on hand?" I asked, scanning her body for more wounds. I moved my wand over another deep gash on her hip and watched her skin close obediently.
"Ginny, go get some. It's in the kitchen," Molly ordered. A moment later she was beside me, her own wand drawn. A precise flick, and the loveseat was covered in a sheet, protecting it from the blood.
"Where did you guys go? I thought you were just walking the garden," Tonks questioned Draco.
"We were. I didn't notice when we passed outside of the wards. We couldn't have been that far outside of them. I made sure we stayed close." He sucked in a breath as Remus adjusted his arm before muttering an incantation. The audible pop of his bones realigning filled the silence.
Mrs. Potter pushed the door open from the kitchen, a small vial in her hand. She rushed over to where I was bent over Susan, making sure her breathing continued. Without asking, she poured the potion into Susan's mouth and made her swallow. The change was nearly immediate—the smallest bit of color returned to Susan's face, and the blue that had begun to creep into her lips vanished. I sat back on my heals, turning my attention to Draco.
"Who was it?" Mr. Potter asked.
"Nott. He kept saying how she would find his offering much more appealing than my father's. Kept ranting about how babies are her favorite." He paused. "I don't even feel guilty that I used the Killing Curse."
"Offering?" Mr. Potter repeated.
There were a few moments of silence. What offering had Lucius presented? He hadn't mentioned the need for one. Did he not feel he needed my help in acquiring one? Part of me was given over to frustration. That was exactly the type of opening we had needed to get inside their lines.
My blood ran cold.