Within the Shadows of Hatred (Chapter 8: Lost and Found)

“Come on Hermione, you’ve got to eat something,” Lavender tried to push a plate with food on it towards her friend.

“I don’t want to,” Hermione refused, her eyes downcast. “This is all worse than before Lav, I can’t take it anymore.”

“Hermione don’t talk that way.” Lavender sat down and smoothed Hermione’s limp hair back off her face.

“No, it’s true!” Hermione pushed Lavender’s hand away. “Harry and I will never work anything out, he’s too damned stubborn and pig headed. And there’s STILL no word on my children!” she began to sob again and Lavender hugged her. “I can’t leave the house because if I do, I might miss someone contacting us… yet I feel so useless just sitting around!”

“Its fine,” Lavender reassured her. “Harry’s out there looking, you’re here waiting…”

Hermione sniffed loudly. “Thanks Lav, I appreciate it.”

“I’ll stay as long as you need me to okay?” Lavender said.

“Okay,” Hermione replied, blowing her nose on a napkin.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Lavender got up. “I’ll be right back.”

Hermione nodded as her friend left the kitchen. She picked up the sandwich that had been put in front of her and took a small bite, chewing thoroughly before swallowing. About to take another, she was startled when a large black bird tapped it’s beak on the window.

She pushed back her chair so hard it fell to the ground as she rushed to the window and opened it. The raven swooped inside and dropped an envelope on the counter, immediately flying back out. Hermione snatched up the package with shaking fingers and without hesitation tore it open.

– If you want to see your children again, follow the path. ALONE.-

Hermione read it aloud to herself several times, each sweep of her eyes making her tremble harder and harder.  “Follow the path?” she wondered. Looking into the envelope again, Hermione noticed a piece of the envelope tucked into itself. She tore it open and something fell to the floor.

“No…” Hermione felt her stomach lurch violently as she bent to the floor and picked the object up.

It was her wedding band, from the first time she and Harry had gotten married.

A tiny cry escaped Hermione’s throat, a cry of surprise and panic. ‘Who would have sent me my old wedding ring in a ransom note?’ she wondered, but didn’t have time to do anything else as she was suddenly pulled away, the note dropping from her hand.

After spinning through several minutes, Hermione was thrown onto a dirty floor, scraping up her palms. She staggered to her feet while regaining her breath, and then grew dizzy as she began to recognise her surroundings. Spinning around and dropping the ring unconsciously, Hermione started to tremble again as she moved slowly over to a wall, a very familiar wall with a few broken chains hanging, moss seeping through the cracks.

“No!!!” Hermione cried, visibly shaking.

“Mummy!” two voices suddenly echoed through the room and Hermione spun around. Streaking across the room, she pulled her two youngest children against her as she began to cry.

“Are you all right?” she asked, frantically kissing their faces and hugging them as close to her as she could.

“We’re okay Mummy,” Carl answered as Corinne clung to their mother. “A mean blond man brought us here and we saw you in the room!”

“What?” Hermione looked down at her son. “A blond man?” her mind began to work furiously. “What… what was his name?” she asked fearfully.

“Oh come now Granger…” a voice drawled behind her and Hermione’s blood ran cold. “Are you telling me you’ve forgotten that year we spent together?”

“Draco Malfoy,” Hermione tried hard to keep her voice from shaking as she stood up, pushing her children behind her.

Draco smiled cruelly. “So you haven’t forgotten,” he said calmly.

“How could I?” Hermione asked, her voice angry. “How did you get out of Azkaban?”

“That’s really not the important thing, now is it?” Draco replied. “Get them out of here,” he spoke to Crabbe and Goyle, who had appeared behind him. The two hulking men moved over to Hermione and the children.

“You are not taking them anywhere!” Hermione spoke through clenched teeth. Crabbe simply smirked and she blindly struck out at him, catching the edge of his jaw. Draco came up and grabbed her wrists, pinning her up to the wall as Carl and Corinne were taken from the room.

“Let me go you bastard!” Hermione struggled as hard as she could but wasn’t able to break free.

Draco smiled coldly at her. “Aw, Granger, don’t cry,” he said mockingly. “I’m just a little hell bent on revenge is all.”

Hermione spat in his face. “You’re despicable.” Her lip curled up as he gripped both her wrists in one hand as he wiped his face with the other. “Harry’s going to kill you for this!” her head snapped to the side as Draco backhanded her.

“Not before I do what I set out to do though,” Draco pulled back on her hair, baring her neck. “I’m going to make your worst fears come true,” he said, purposefully moving right up against her.

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, her voice still shaking. She kept trying to work herself free but Draco hard too hard a grip on her now.

“Why, using Potter blood to bring back the Dark Lord of course,” Draco grinned frighteningly. “Once I bring him back… you and Potter will know what it’s like to lose everything. I’ll be right next to him, and once he’s got his full power… you will know the meaning of suffering.” Draco finally let go of her hair and pushed her hard so against the wall her head smacked against the rotting stone. “Except maybe that older daughter of yours… she’s turned out quite sexy, almost delectable, considering she came from a Mudblood. I might just keep her around…”

Hermione’s blood boiled when Draco laughed, and she flew away from the wall and scratched him viciously. “You BASTARD! YOU WILL NOT HURT ANOTHER ONE OF MY CHILDREN!” she screamed as she hit him as hard as she could repeatedly.

Draco swung out at her and caught her on the cheek; Hermione fell back and Draco was on top of her, his hands closing around her neck. She choked, her hands flailing out to find anything she could to get him away from her.

“Bitch,” Draco growled, his cheek bleeding from a deep scratch. “I’ll kill you now and you’ll go right along with those two brats…”

“Over my dead body!” Hermione clawed at him once more and then her knee came up right between his legs. Draco fell back, howling in pain as Hermione scrambled to the other side of the dingy room for one of the chains hanging from the wall. She was trying to pull one off when he tackled her from behind.

“You’ll pay for that you bitch!” Draco pushed her to the ground, pulling up hard on her hair. He put a knee in her back and squeezed her throat with his other hand.

Hermione could barely see; she reached out blindly to find any sort of assistance. Her fingers closed over something hard, and then all of a sudden there was a tugging in her stomach and Draco’s hands slipped off her body and she was travelling away from the dungeons.

The brightness of the kitchen overwhelmed Hermione as she fell onto the floor. “Hermione!” Lavender pulled her friend up. She gasped when she saw Hermione’s bruised cheek. “Grace!”

“Oh boy,” Grace Finch Fletchley sighed when she saw Hermione. “What happened to you?” she asked, trying to sit Hermione in a chair.

“Oh my God…” Hermione started to rock back and forth. “He’s got the kids, he’s got them. He’s going to kill them…” she began muttering.

“What?” Lavender crouched down. “Hermione… what?”

Grace sat down across from Hermione. “Calm down, Hermione. What happened?” she asked in her cool professional tone of voice.

“Oh God… he’s got them Grace. He’s got my children!” Hermione looked up, her eyes filled with tears and spilling over her cheeks, mixing with the blood that was drying. “You have to help me go back! I have to go back! I left them there!” she started shrieking.

Grace pulled her best friend over into her arms. “Lavender, go send a note to Harry… I’m taking her to St. Mungo’s, I don’t know what happened to her.” She tried hard to remain professional but it was difficult.

“Okay,” Lavender nodded, her face pale as she ran from the room to get some parchment to write on.

“Come on, Hermione,” Grace pulled the other woman to her feet. Hermione was numb at this point, moving but not seeing what she was doing. Grace remembered the time Hermione began getting memory flashes of what that Draco Malfoy had done to her; she had been much the same way, rather catatonic.

They got to the hospital and Grace used her pull to put Hermione immediately into a room. She assigned several aides to gather as many spells as they could to pull her out of the state she was in, but as soon as Grace saw Harry striding towards her in the hallway she knew they wouldn’t be needed.

“What happened?” his tone was brisk but she could sense the underlying concern.

“It’s Hermione,” Grace replied. “I came over because I had just heard about your… news… we were on vacation with the kids and I hadn’t heard of it until just this morning… and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do. Lavender was over as well… but Hermione had disappeared. We were debating on what to do with this…” she held the note out gingerly to Harry who took it. “…When she reappeared right in the kitchen.”

“Shit…” Harry swore under his breath as he read the note, cursing himself for not being there.

“Harry,” Grace put her hand on his arm. “She was bruised up rather nastily, and was muttering about how ‘he’ had the children. She went into a catatonic state… and so I brought her here.”

“Thanks Grace,” Harry said.

“She’s right in there.” Grace nodded towards the door on their left. “Get her out so we can find your children okay?”

Harry nodded wordlessly, blaming himself for this. If he hadn’t been so stupid and stubborn he’d have been home and could have prevented her being hurt. He went into the room, pausing momentarily in the doorway.

Hermione lay in the bed, her eyes staring straight up at the ceiling; she was still muttering under her breath. “Hermione,” Harry spoke, coming closer to the bed. She made no movement, continuing to stare up. “Hermione, love it’s me, it’s Harry.” He took her hand and squeezed it gently. It took several more minutes for her to actually respond and turn her head towards him.

“Harry,” Hermione’s eyes filled with new tears and she sat up to reach for him. “Harry he’s got them… you have to go find them before he kills them…”

“Who Hermione?” he pulled her back and looked in her eyes. “Who took them?”

“Draco,” Hermione managed. “It was Draco Malfoy.”

“Draco?” Harry repeated in disbelief, sitting back as if he had been slapped. “What…how…?”

“I don’t know… but he has them. Harry he sent me this as a portkey…“ she opened her hand where she had been clutching her wedding band.

Harry picked it up, still disbelieving. “When… when did he get this?”

“He must have taken it when he had taken me.” Hermione replied. “Harry, he’s going to use the kids to bring… to bring back Voldemort. You have to get over there… Harry please.”

Harry nodded, swallowing hard. “His house… its Unplottable. I’m going to have to have Ron put a trace on this at the Ministry.” Hermione nodded and Harry rushed from the room. He ran into Ron and Lavender in the corridor.

“It was Malfoy,” his green eyes were burning in anger. “He’s taken my children.” He held the ring out to Ron. “He sent Hermione this as a portkey… Ron, can you take it back to the Ministry and have them put a trace on it?”

Ron nodded. “It’ll take an hour.”

“Fine.” Harry replied. “I don’t care. Bring it back and then I’m going after him. If I have to, I’m going to kill him.” His voice was deadly calm.

Ron nodded again. “I’ll be back when I get it. And Harry, I’m going with you.”

Harry had no will in him to argue. “All right. Just… hurry… please?”

“I will.” Ron disappeared down the hallway.

“I’m going to go talk to Grace,” Lavender said. She wanted to see Hermione but she knew it was more important for Harry to be with his wife right now.

Harry took her arm as she was about to hurry away. “Can you owl Caty for me? I need to be with Hermione.”

“Already done,” Lavender smiled at him. “Go on, go be with Hermione.”

“Thanks,” Harry hugged her a moment then hurried back in the room. Hermione was looking out the window but turned when her husband came back in.

“Ron’s checking the trace on the portkey,” Harry said. “He said he’d have it in about an hour.”

“Okay,” Hermione replied. The bruising in her cheek was already going down and she could see Harry’s eyes travelling all over her face. “I’m all right,” she fiddled with her blanket.

Harry sighed, moving over and sitting down on the edge of her bed. “If I had been there you wouldn’t have been injured to begin with.”

Hermione wiped her eyes with her free hand; Harry had just taken her other in his. “You don’t know that. Harry, even if you had been there I’d have gone wherever that note said to go by myself.”

“Yeah, I know,” Harry smiled at her for the first time in weeks. “You’re very thick headed like that,” he tried to tease.

Hermione knew he was only covering up his fear of what was coming. “Yeah, just like you,” she replied and they both smiled at each other. “You’ll get them back, right Harry?”

“Safe and sound- I’m not leaving without them.” Harry replied, his eyes turning serious.

“I know,” Hermione replied as Harry leaned over, threading his fingers through her hair. “None of it really matters anymore Harry,” he knew what she was talking about.

He nodded as she moved over so he could squeeze next to her on the narrow bed. She leaned over so her head was resting on his chest as his arms came around and stroked her back.

They stayed that way, just lying together in silence for awhile before they heard some commotion in the corridor.

“What happened? Did they find my brother and sister?” Caitlyn was asking in a high, upset voice.

“No… it’s not your brother and sister,” Grace was replying in a lower voice. Harry looked up and saw her pull his oldest daughter to the side and explain what had happened, and a moment after that Caitlyn was in the door and practically on the bed.

“Mum are you all right?” Caitlyn was pale, her hair unbraided and falling into her face. Her weary eyes rested upon her parents in the bed.

“I’m all right love,” Hermione sat up and reached for her daughter.

“You found them?” Caitlyn’s voice was soft.

Hermione looked at Harry, who nodded. “Caty… we have to go back and get them. They’re being held in the same place your mother was… by the same person.”

“But… how?” Caitlyn was confused. “I thought he was in Azkaban!”

“So did we,” Hermione hugged her daughter. “Ron is putting a trace on the portkey I was sent, and your father is going to get them.”

Harry slid his arms around his wife and oldest child. “I’m going to get them and bring them back,” he said again, as if reassuring himself.

“I know,” Hermione replied, pulling her family in closer.

Blue Weasley was almost running down the corridor, upon receiving the owl from his mother he had rushed to St. Mungo’s as fast as he could. He saw his father talking to Grace and bolted to his side.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Oh, Blue!” Ron’s tone was relieved. “I’m glad you’re here,”

“What happened?” Blue asked again. “Did you find the kids?”

Ron sighed. “In a sense of speaking, yes.” He filled his son in on what had happened to Hermione. “I’ve just gotten the ring back, so we can go to Malfoy’s and… take care of things.”

Blue nodded as they went to Hermione’s room, where Lavender had joined them. “Harry, we’ve got the trace.”

Harry looked up. “Let’s go then. I don’t want to waste any more time.” Ron nodded. “We’ll bring them back here, Grace can check them over,” Harry said to his wife.

“Okay,” Hermione replied, her stomach turning unpleasantly. “Be careful Harry,” he leaned over and hugged her, kissing her on the lips quickly.

Ron was in the midst of hugging his wife when his son spoke. “I’m going too,” Blue said.

“No,” Harry replied immediately, looking to Ron. “No, we can’t take the chance that something might happen. It’s best if Ron and I go.”

“You’ll need help,” Blue insisted. “What if he has other guys there to help him?”

“Harry, he has Crabbe and Goyle there,” Hermione said.

“You can’t really stop me from going,” Blue spoke again. “I can help you get the twins back.”

“I’m going too,” Caitlyn insisted, standing up.

“No!” Harry spoke more forcefully this time. “Caitlyn you stay here with your mother. I’m not risking three of my children today.”

Caitlyn looked at her father in shock as her mother took her hand. “Caty, stay with me,” Hermione was thinking of what Draco said about her and was not about to let her go anywhere near him. “I need you here,” she squeezed her daughter’s hand. Caitlyn looked from one parent to the other, her mouth opened as if to argue, but then thought better of it.

“All right,” she relented, moving up to sit closer to her mother.

“Well,” Harry said, his jaw set. “We’d better go.” His tone was flat and finite.

Ron and Blue nodded. The room was completely silent as the three men walked out. Blue turned as he passed through the doorframe and looked back at Caitlyn. She stared back at him, their eyes holding for a long moment before he turned away and left.

“Mum I’m scared,” Caitlyn said in a tiny voice. Hermione pulled her into a large hug.

“I know,” she replied. “I am too,”

Harry, Ron and Blue each touched the ring as Harry muttered the proper incantation. Within moments they were being tugged through the portkey and were deposited into the ruins of a once great mansion.

“Shit,” Ron said under his breath. “This place has certainly gone to hell…”

Harry didn’t say anything and Blue was too overwhelmed to even look at the place. The three of them went into what was left of the house, which looked to be the house elf quarters, and down a narrow stairway.

“Ugh,” Blue put his arm up to his nose. “That smell is disgusting,”

“No kidding,” Ron replied. “Smells like something died down here,” he looked at Harry and realised what he had said. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.”

“I know,” Harry replied, his voice a forced calm.  “Let’s just get them, okay? Get my kids and get them out of here…”

“I’ve been expecting you,” a cold voice drawled to their right. Harry spun around, immediately pointing his wand out. “Certainly took you long enough to get here, much like the Mudblood.”

“Malfoy,” Harry gritted his teeth, ignoring the insult for fear he might let his wand get the better of him. “Where are my children?”

“All in good time, Potter,” Draco answered. “There’s no rush is there?” his eyes narrowed. “What have we here?” Weasel, and…” his eyes looked behind Ron. “Weasel Junior…”

“Leave them out of this,” Harry replied, his wand still fixed firmly on his archenemy. “How did you get out of Azkaban?”

“That’s my business, not yours,” Draco retorted.

“Just give me my children,” Harry replied in a somewhat calmer tone. “I’ll see to it you go back peacefully.”

“Not a chance in Hell that’s going to happen,” Draco smirked. “Potter, you have no idea what I plan on doing with your precious brats.”

Ron gripped Harry’s arm to keep him from suddenly lunging out. “What are you talking about Malfoy?” he asked in a cold voice.

“What, your Mudblood wife didn’t tell you?” Draco’s lips curled up in a horrific smile. “Your children will be the first to be sacrificed to bring back the Dark Lord,” his eyes took on a glow. “After they die and he comes back, you will know what it feels like to lose EVERYTHING!” Draco finished with a shout.

Harry felt rage coursing through him as Malfoy spoke, his hand clenching into a fist. It acted of its own accord and flew forward, smashing into the side of Malfoy’s face.

“You will NEVER hurt my children!” Harry roared. His hands wound around Malfoy’s neck and they fell onto the floor, slugging punches at one another. His eyes bore into Malfoy’s, and he could see shreds of sanity snap behind them.

“Shit,” Ron said. “We have to help him.” He turned around to see a great hulking shadow come into the room and take a swing at him. “Son of a bitch,” he hit back at Goyle, while his son started wrestling with Crabbe.

“You will never be free of me,” Draco sneered, pushing Harry off him.

“Like hell,” Harry replied through clenched teeth. He jabbed his wand out at Draco and shot out the first curse that came to mind.

Blue struggled with the much larger man, who actually seemed quite stupid. He looked to his left and saw Harry shooting curse after curse at Draco, who ducked them and retaliated. Trying hard to pull his hand from the two ton fists, he was able to reach back and grab his wand.

“Petrificus Totalus!” he shouted and Crabbe was frozen stiff and falling back. He backed away from the large body and was stunned to see two bodies huddled together behind a large rotting stone. “What are you two doing in here?” Blue asked in shock, rushing over to them.

“We heard Daddy,” Corinne said, her eyes round and scared. She was clutching Carl’s hand tightly.

“Well let’s get you two out of here,” Blue pulled them both safely into his arms.

Draco was in the midst of shooting a particularly nasty jinx at Harry when he caught a flash of red in the corner of his eye. He saw Weasel’s son trying to sneak the two children out of the room, how they’d gotten in there Draco didn’t know but he didn’t care.

“CRUCIO!” he screamed, pointing his wand in Blue’s direction. Blue felt pain worse than anything he’d ever experienced coursing through his body and he screamed, dropping the twins as he bent over. He was barely able to make out the horrified look on their eyes.

Ron used every last bit of his strength to push Goyle at the wall. He gave a strangled cry as a rusty iron spike protruded from the larger man’s shoulder and nearly impaling him as well. Ron backed away, then suddenly heard Malfoy scream and spun around to see his son doubled over.

“Blue!” Ron was sick with fear as he tore over to his son. Harry attacked Malfoy from behind, but Malfoy barely flinched and did not stop his curse.

“Take them…” Blue wheezed. “Get them out of here I’ll be fine just get them out…” Ron looked at Draco, who looked as if he’d gone mad. There was no light in his pale grey eyes and they focused solely on Blue and the curse.  Ron looked up at Harry, who seemed to understand. They each grabbed one of the twins and rushed out.

“How are we getting back?” Ron asked as they rushed up the stairs to where Harry had put the ring for safekeeping. He had not wanted to bring it down with them in case it was destroyed.

“Now that we know where we are, we can apparate,” Harry replied. Corinne clung to her father’s neck while burying her face in his shoulder.

“All right,” Ron’s face was pale and Harry felt a horrible pang of guilt. It was Ron who was suffering now; it was Ron whose son was downstairs being tortured by the Cruciatus Curse while they took his children to safety.

“Come on,” Harry muttered, grabbing the key with his free hand. The men clung onto the children as they were pulled away.

Hermione was on pins and needles, alternately squeezing Caitlyn’s hand and staring out the window. Caitlyn sat motionless next to her mother while Lavender paced the room. Neither of them had spoken except to wonder out loud what was happening at that moment.

At that moment, they heard some crashing down the hall and Lavender and Caitlyn rushed to the doorway to see two larger figures barrelling down the corridor.

“Move!” Harry commanded as they rushed into the room. He and Ron unceremoniously put the twins down on the bed.

“We have to go back, Blue’s still there,” Ron quickly told his wife. She clapped her hands over her mouth and Harry saw his daughter do the same out of the corner of his eye.

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears as her husband and best friend ran out of the room. Her babies crawled up to her and she hugged them hard. “Caty, go get Grace will you?” she fought to keep her voice calm.

Caitlyn nodded and went to fetch the other woman. Lavender sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes staring straight at the wall.

“Aunt Lavender?” Corinne’s voice was small. “We’re sorry we got Blue hurt,” her large green were filled with tears.

Lavender turned, reaching out to stroke the long curls. “Oh love, I’m not angry, I’ll bet you Blue is just fine,” she tried to smile. “I’m just so happy you and your brother are safe now,” she hugged the little girl and looked at Hermione.

“I know,” Hermione said softly. She knew how terrified Lavender had become, how in a matter of seconds the situation had completely changed. Now it was her child, her only child, in danger.

Harry and Ron were able to apparate back to Malfoy’s. Without saying a word, they rushed back down the stairs, straining to hear Blue but only hearing the maniacal laughter of an insane man instead.

Barrelling back into the room, Ron immediately ran full speed at Draco, finally breaking the curse. “You BASTARD!” He shouted, pushing the other man to the ground. Harry rushed forward to try and pull the unconscious Blue away from the grappling.

Draco snarled up at Ron, bringing his knee up and kicking him hard. Ron howled with pain and fell to the ground, trying to scramble up as Draco pointed his wand at him.

“Don’t do it Malfoy,” Harry spoke up, moving away from the prone figure of his best friend’s son.

“Go to hell, Potter,” Draco spoke through clenched teeth. “I’ll send Weasel along ahead to meet you there,” Ron staggered to his feet, breathing hard as the wand was aimed at him.  “Avada Kedavra!” he screamed and a stream of green light came from the wand and headed for Ron.

Ron could hardly move, but something propelled him out of the way at the last second, the killing curse just grazing his trousers. It went straight into the wall behind him and all three men turned to look as a loud rumbling began to echo through the dungeons.

“It’s collapsing!” Harry shouted. The ceiling began to crack as the rumbling grew louder as Harry grabbed Ron and pulled him out of the way.

“Blue’s in there!” Ron shouted as the ceiling caved in, rotting rock and weeds spilling onto the ground. Harry had to restrain him as the centre of the ceiling fell down. An anguished cry and a sickening crunch was heard as the dust flew thick throughout the room.

“BLUE!” Ron pulled hard and broke free of Harry’s grip. Harry ran after him into the room, coughing and waving hand to try and clear the dust away. He began to grab larger pieces of rock, a sick feeling in his stomach, hoping that Blue wasn’t underneath it all. Neither of them could see for several minutes as they tried to pull off the stone, their hands growing bruised and bloody on the sharper pieces.

It was another few moments before Ron let out a rather triumphant cry. “He’s over here! The stone only fell on his leg!” Harry went through the clearing dust as Ron cradled his son’s head.

Harry grunted as he pulled the large piece of rock off the younger man’s leg. Blue was still completely motionless, not even a grunt from him. “His leg is broken,” he said, bending down and waving the dust away.

“I need to get him back to the hospital,” Ron replied in a tight voice. Harry knew Ron was simply trying to keep it all inside.

“I’m going to have to stay here,” Harry replied. “I think Malfoy…” the two of them grimaced. “…is under there.”

Ron nodded. “As soon as I can get him situated I’ll send Ministry officials here. I… I’m going to stay at the hospital…” his tone turned slightly shaky.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Harry helped Ron prop Blue up and he watched Ron carry his son out of the room. As soon as he was sure that Ron was gone, he let out a loud scream that almost woke up the pale (and rather bloodless) Goyle who was still impaled on the wall.

“Why can’t anything just BLOODY work out?” he kicked hard at a stone. “First it’s my wife, then my children and now it’s Ron’s son! I can’t stand this anymore!”

Ron watched as Grace and several mediwizards levitated his son onto a bed and began working spell after spell over him. Lavender clutched his arm tightly and he hugged her hard. “He’s going to be all right,” he said, more for her benefit than his.

“What happened?” Grace asked, businesslike.

“He uh… he was under the Cruciatus Curse,” Ron replied hoarsely. “For probably about ten minutes or more…” his shaking hand pushed his hair off his forehead. “And um… then… the stone fell on his leg and broke it when the ceiling collapsed.” Ron fell into a chair and began to sob, to cry harder than he ever had before.

Harry arrived back at the hospital an hour later, leaving the Ministry workers to take care of the body of Draco Malfoy and his two goons. He walked slowly down the hall, afraid of what he would find in the rooms.

“Daddy!” his babies ran to him as soon as he came in the doorway.

“Ohhh,” He knelt down and hugged them as tight as he could. Harry never wanted to let them go again, he wanted to hold them to him for the rest of his life. He looked up and saw Hermione and Caitlyn sitting next to one another. “How’s… how’s Blue?” Harry cleared his throat.

Hermione shook her head and Harry closed his eyes, feeling the overwhelming surge of guilt wash over him. He picked his daughter up and kissed her cheek as Carl clambered on the bed next to his mother.

“He’s going to wake up, right Dad?” Caitlyn asked weakly. “He’s going to wake up, right?”


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