The Rise of the Drackens

Harry comes into a very unexpected inheritance. He is a creature both rare and very dangerous, a creature that is black listed by the British Ministry. So now he must avoid detection at all costs, whilst choosing his life partners and dealing with impending pregnancy at just sixteen. With danger coming not just from the Ministry but even other creatures, what was he supposed to do?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8022667/1/The-Rise-of-the-Drackens

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104. Chapter Ninety-Seven – Justice Beginnings

Harry was on a high the next morning, walking around with Eva slung over his shoulder, his baby daughter still not dressed as she gurgled wetly as he rushed into this room and that one, taking her with him.

He believed that he was still on a hyperactive run from all the chocolate that he'd eaten last night, but proving Nasta wrong, he did not have a belly ache from it and he'd even managed breakfast today, he just couldn't sit still.

"You'll make that baby sick." Draco warned him even as he made tea for everyone at the counter.

Harry laughed as he patted Eva's nappy clad bum under her nightdress.

"She's fine; she's a robust, hardy little girl." He boasted as he once again left the kitchen for the living room after picking up a cup of tea…he knew that Max had put a calming draught in there because he'd heard Nasta beg him to calm him down somehow. He didn't mind.

"Do you want to change?" Blaise asked him, holding out Ave. "I need to get Eva bathed and dressed."

Harry nodded as he put his cup down and switched babies, handing over Eva and putting his other beautiful little girl over his shoulder and picking up his tea again.

"Sit down with Ave." Nasta told him. "She spit up this morning, I don't think her belly will take you walking her around in circles."

Harry did as he was told and he almost felt the calming draught in the tea taking effect as he sighed, his body calming from the buzzing hyper activity of minutes before.

"That's some potent potion." He chuckled as he snuggled with Ave and nuzzled her little ear. She burbled at him.

"Ah ma."

Harry grinned at his little girl and kissed her cheek gently as she stared at him.

"You seem better this week that you were the last time." Max told him.

Harry shrugged. "As horrible as it is, that attack really helped me. There is only one time in my life that I have ever been more afraid than I was in that shitty warehouse and that was when I had that shit fit nightmare at Myron's house. Being that scared, thinking that I was about to be violated and the thought that I might never be able to have children again…it's made me realise that this court case is nothing. Why should I be so afraid? Nothing can happen to me, no one can hurt me. It's just memories and memories shouldn't be able to hurt me, because they've already happened. I've lived through that before, why should I be afraid of it now when I know that I can't be hurt?"

Nasta came and kissed him and Harry smiled.

"I'm so happy that you've come to this conclusion." His top dominant told him as he kissed Harry again while his fingers played with Ave's curly hair. "Your memories can't hurt you if you don't let them and not a single one of us would let you go anywhere if we thought that you'd be hurt."

Harry nodded. "Looking back, I can't believe that I was so scared of something that can't even hurt me."

Blaise smiled at him. "It's alright to be afraid of the unknown." He parroted. He'd said something similar the first time that Harry had had to go to court.

"I know what to expect now, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I should be alright today, but it's going to be longer and I'm going to miss you all."

"We'll be right here waiting for you, and I think you've spent more than enough time with the kids to tide them over until you get back."

"I can never spend enough time with them." Harry declared passionately.

Nasta chuckled and kissed him again. "Go and get yourself ready, Richard will be here in half an hour and you haven't even showered yet."

Harry nodded as he passed over a very happy Ave to her adoring Daddy and he went to go and shower and dress himself. He took in several deep breaths. He could do this, he was going to be just fine and nothing was going to happen to him. He couldn't be hurt by them anymore.

He and Richard kept to the same routine as they had before. Richard collected him from home and took him back to his place, they had a small pep talk and a run through of the basic time schedule they were going to be keeping and then they said goodbye to Myron, who hugged him tightly before going to work himself and from there, he was Apparated to the alley behind the café where they both got cups of coffee to go and then they made their way to the court room.

"You're going to see a lot of photos today, Harry."

"The ones from the house showing the cupboard and my bedroom?" Harry asked.

Richard nodded. "Some others as well if we can get around to it, but I want you to be prepared to see them."

"The ones of my body?"

Richard nodded and Harry steeled himself. He could do this, he'd seen those pictures before, he'd lived through the events of those pictures. He could do this. He would do this. He was entirely determined that those people would not get away with what they'd done to him, with what they'd put him through throughout the years. He hadn't wanted to do this at first, he'd been dead set against it, but now that the proceedings had started, he wanted to see it through to the end. He wanted justice for himself, for the scared, unloved little boy that he'd been, living in a cupboard, starving, isolated, in broken glasses and second hand clothes. He wanted the Dursleys to face up to what they'd done to him and face the consequences, the punishment, for those actions.

They were called into the court room and Harry sat in his chair beside Richard. He didn't look at the Dursleys and they didn't look at him. He swallowed and touched Richard's hand under the table. The man took hold of his hand and squeezed comfortingly.

"You're going to be fine." Richard told him softly. "Completely fine. Just think of all the treats you'll get after this, chocolate, sweets, hugs and kisses when you want them…lots of sex."

Harry ducked his head and giggled as softly as he could so that no one would hear him and think that he was being inappropriate.

"That's better. You just stay there and let me sort this out. It'll be over soon."

The session was called to order and Richard slipped on his court persona as everyone greeted one another curtly, a man that Harry barely recognised but would have been afraid of if he didn't know the fun loving goof behind the mask. He could definitely understand why no one wanted to be on the opposite side to Richard in the court room as he kicked everything off with a stern face and a sharp tone of voice.

Harry tried to follow the court speak again, especially as Vernon was on the stand, being asked all manner of questions, some of them completely inane sounding to him, but he trusted Richard and he let him ask all sorts of questions that Vernon answered curtly. Harry still got lost around some of the strange words as their meaning flew completely over his head though. He couldn't help the clenching of his hands when Richard directed the jury's attention to the screen though, where he indicated a reel of numbered photographs to be shown.

"This is a lovely home, Mister Dursley. Very clean, very neat and pristine. A four bedroomed home I believe?"

"That's right." Vernon grumbled.

"This home shows how very wealthy you and your family were, there were five televisions, each with their own DVD player, there were three computers and two games consoles. You had a brand new car sitting in the drive way. It is a very nice house indeed. So tell me, Mister Dursley, if you were wealthy enough to afford all of these lovely things and your lovely house, which has four bedrooms, why was my client, your own Nephew, forced to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs?" He asked with a hard, biting edge to his words.

"He was never forced to stay in that cupboard." Vernon growled and Harry bit the inside of his cheek to prevent himself from saying anything as he silently fumed.

"Oh?" Richard let out a short, sarcastic chuckle. "Forgive me; you are trying to say that a young boy willingly locked himself in a cupboard?"

"The boy liked it in that cupboard. We were hard pressed to get him to come out most days."

Richard hummed thoughtfully and indicated that the next photo should be shown. It was a photo of his dirty little nest, made up of ratty blankets and his own clothes, which were Dudley's hand-me-downs.

"You are trying to get this court to believe that a perfectly normal little boy wanted to spend all of his time in this tiny cupboard?"

"He wasn't normal, he's never been normal." Vernon growled.

"Alright, Mister Dursley, let's say that I believe that Harry wasn't a completely normal little boy, why then didn't you ever get him help?" Richard asked. "A little boy who was orphaned very young in violent circumstances who would rather spend his time curled up in a tiny cupboard, surely that set alarm bells off in your mind? Why not get him to a doctor?"

"He wouldn't go!" Vernon insisted.

"So you're saying that a four, five year old child was too much of a handful for you to take him to a medical centre to be assessed by professionals who could have helped him?"

"He was violent, even at that age."

"You are trying to tell this court that a man of twenty-six years couldn't handle a four year old little boy?" Richard asked sceptically.

Vernon said nothing and Harry hunched in on himself a little, squeezing his shoulders into his body. He wasn't a violent person, he never had been, and he hated that the Dursleys were painting him as this violent, problem child that was mentally abnormal.

"I can see that you aren't going to answer that question." Richard said sharply. "So if Harry wouldn't go to see a doctor himself, why didn't you ever have a doctor call around to your home to assess him? You must have been worried and doctors will make a house visit if asked."

Vernon again remained silent and Harry had to force himself not to glare at the hateful man.

"Mister Dursley, I asked you a question." Richard rebuked sternly, as if Vernon was being particularly difficult or slow minded. "Why didn't you ever have a doctor come and assess Harry in the home if you were so worried about him spending all of his time in a cupboard? Actually, while we're on this topic, why does Harry not have any medical records after his parents' death in nineteen-eighty-one?"

"He wouldn't go to the doctor." Vernon repeated.

"So you admit that you never had Harry vaccinated or ever seen to by a doctor? He has no dental records either, can I assume that you never took Harry to the dentist either? Oh, excuse me; you're going to say that he wouldn't go there either, aren't you?"

"He wouldn't." Vernon said through gritted teeth.

"There is no need to get angry, Mister Dursley. I am merely asking you to answer the questions. Would you say that you have often had problems with controlling your anger?"

"No. I am a family man!" Vernon insisted.

"A family man, yes. I can see that with the way that you left your Nephew in a cupboard and never took him to the doctor or to the dentist. I don't believe that a man in his mid-twenties would be outmatched by a mere toddler. I think that you not only made Harry sleep in that cupboard, but you locked him in there when it was convenient for you."

"We never locked him in that cupboard!"

"I don't believe you." Richard said simply. "You hated that a new baby had been thrust onto you after Harry's parents were killed and you hated him for intruding on your perfect life. You hid him away in that cupboard and you treated him worse than an animal."

"That's a lie!" Vernon raged.

"Then please, tell me what happened usually, on a day to day basis?"

"I don't understand the question."

"Okay, let me rephrase my question in a way that you might understand. What did you do every day, what was the routine that you kept?"

"I'd wake up every morning, shower, have breakfast and then I'd go to work for eight O'clock on weekdays."

"So your Wife was the one who spent all day at home with Harry, your Nephew?"

"Yes."

"So by your own admission, you left a violent four year old that you yourself couldn't handle or control, alone with your Wife and son while you went out to work each day?"

Harry watched as Vernon realised his slip up and he coloured rapidly.

"Do not play me for a fool, Mister Dursley. You weren't worried about Harry doing anything to your Wife because he wasn't a violent boy at all, was he? You locked him in a cupboard and he was terrified of you, so it was perfectly alright for you to go to work each day, knowing that if Harry wasn't locked up in a cupboard, then he was so afraid of you that he wouldn't dare do anything to earn a punishment."

"Objection! My client worked hard to provide food and a roof over his family's heads, he needed to work in order to provide for them."

"I was merely questioning why, if Harry was such a violent child that Mister Dursley couldn't even handle him, to the extent that he couldn't even get a four year old to see a doctor when he needed one, why would he then go out each day, leaving his Wife and son in the same house with said violent child? It is a perfectly feasible question."

"Answer the question, Mister Dursley." The severe looking Judge said curtly.

"I needed to work, if we left the boy alone to do as he pleased, then his outbursts were few and far between."

"You let a toddler do as he pleased around a dangerous home?" Richard asked in over exaggerated surprise.

"Our home was not dangerous, we had our own son to care for, he was only a few months older than Harry."

"All houses are dangerous, Mister Dursley, especially to little four year olds who are left to do as they please with no supervision."

Harry watched Vernon colour up further and it was hard to keep his tongue in check. He wanted so badly to deny the accusations being thrown around about him, but he couldn't risk ruining his only chance at justice. He needed to trust Richard and he needed to trust the Judge and the Jury.

He sneaked a peek at the jurors and folded his hands together nervously. The twelve people were all random, a mix of genders and ages, from all races and ethnicities and they were all listening and watching the proceedings intently.

"If we take your version as the truth, Mister Dursley and Harry was violent and unmanageable to the point where he wouldn't go to the doctor or the dentist, how were you then able to get him to go to school?"

"The boy liked school." Vernon grumbled.

"So Harry, our violent and unmanageable little boy is now five years old, he's in school, was he still the same? Did his violent outbursts increase or worsen?"

"They worsened as he got older, he became more aggressive, more unruly."

"Yet all of his teachers, through every single year that he attended his infants and primary schools, have all said that Harry was a sweet, but shy little boy, who was always polite and kind to the other children. You see, your story here, Mister Dursley, does not add up to the eight teachers that taught Harry through his primary education."

"He was good at pretending and manipulating other people."

"A toddler was able to 'pretend and manipulate' qualified teachers to such an extent that he was a completely different boy when he was in school to when he was at home? Perhaps you think that your Nephew has a dissociative identity disorder, Mister Dursley."

"It wouldn't surprise me, there's definitely something wrong with that boy!"

Harry's body stiffened and he had to bite hard on his tongue to keep it from moving. He breathed deeply and evenly to calm himself down as his sheathed wings vibrated hard against his spine.

"I would like to point out to this court that though my client is in therapy for the abuses that he suffered as a child at the hands of the Dursleys, he has passed a full psychological examination and was found to be perfectly sane and free of all mental disorders, just in case the Dursley family were going to try to falsely claim him as such."

"Mister Potter, can you state the name of the psychologist who administered the evaluation of yourself for the record of the court." The Judge told him brusquely.

Harry looked to Richard, who gave a small, encouraging nod and Harry stood up shyly with everyone's eyes currently on him.

"Sebastian Vasey, your Honour." Harry said clearly.

"Thank you, Mister Potter." The Judge said just as curtly as before and Harry sat back down and squeezed his shoulders in tight to try and hide himself.

The court was silent for a moment, before Richard straightened the papers in front of him and drew the attention of the court back to himself and to the questioning.

"Now, we have ruled out any sort of psychological illnesses, are you still insisting that Harry behaved like another person once he was at home? That he would go from a quiet, sweet, but clever little boy into an uncontrollable, aggressive and violent boy who refused to come out of a cupboard? No one here believes you, Mister Dursley, just admit that you locked Harry in that cupboard to keep him out of the way of your perceived perfect family and we can move on."

"We never locked him in that cupboard!" Vernon said angrily.

"Okay, I can see that this is not getting us anywhere, so we'll move on for now. Tell me about Harry's teenaged years."

"He was a violent, aggressive, delinquent! We had even seriously considered sending him to St Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys." Vernon imparted with all the mannerisms of a man who thought that such information would turn the tides in his favour.

"Yes, Harry told me that you had threatened to do as such throughout his teenaged years. Such a thing alarmed me, so I contacted the school in question directly to schedule a meeting. I was granted such and I took an impartial representative of this court with me to the meeting to record all that was said and on the day of that scheduled meeting, between myself and the Governor of the centre, he informed me that you had never once contacted them, Mister Dursley. But not only that, after given a detailed biography about Harry, including the results of his psychological evaluation and his completely non-existent criminal record, they would never have considered taking him into their facility in the first place as he didn't need to be there! You threatened Harry with the belief that he would be sent to a place that was for violent, hardened criminal boys who were repeat juvenile offenders who needed that facility to rehabilitate and teach them, and perhaps even worse than that, you convinced him that he deserved to be there! Harry doesn't even have a criminal record, Mister Dursley, he has been evaluated as completely clinically sane, why would he need to go to such an institute? He is not a criminal and he has nothing that needs curing, except perhaps your family's hideous mistreatment of him."

"That boy terrorised us!" Vernon raged. "He intimidated us and frightened us!"

Richard made a point of looking at Vernon and then to Harry.

"Come here for a moment, Harry."

Harry stood up and keeping himself hunched in because of all the eyes on him, he made his way around the table to Richard. Two, soothing, comforting hands were placed on each of his shoulders and he relaxed a little.

"Are you talking about this boy here?" Richard asked incredulously. "This tiny, skinny, wraith like boy intimidated and terrorised you when he is half your size, less than half your weight and was found to be very malnourished and starved. A boy who was away at a boarding school for ten months of the year and has been said to be kind and sweet by everyone who has ever met him, except for your family?"

Richard made a point of showing exactly how small and slender Harry was by standing directly behind him, showing the court their height difference and how soft and lithe Harry was compared to Richard's lightly muscled body.

"Thank you, Harry. You can sit back down now." Richard told him kindly, rubbing his shoulder for a moment in a comforting gesture.

Harry sat back down and breathed deeply and calmly, watching Richard as he looked at the huge, thick folder in front of him. He had so much evidence against the Dursleys that it was going to take a month to get through it all.

"You cannot possibly expect me to believe that a boy who you kept starved and locked in a cupboard intimidated and terrorised you when he is half your size." Richard said sharply.

"He did!"

"Then why did you never call the police?" Richard asked lightly. "We have already established that Harry has no criminal record at all, why didn't you ever call the police, Mister Dursley?"

Vernon remained silent again, yet Harry was learning as he observed that silence could be as incriminating as words. By failing to answer such questions, Vernon was digging himself, and his family, into a deeper hole.

"Perhaps you misheard me." Richard said after the silence stretched onwards and a member of the jury muffled a cough. "Why, Mister Dursley, if your nephew Harry was so intimidating and frightening, who in your own words was an aggressive, violent delinquent, did you never phone the police to have such behaviour logged for a moment such as this?"

Harry watched silently as Vernon went puce in the face, but though his moustache twitched, he didn't say anything.

"Your Honour, if I might suggest that we break for lunch a little early while Mister Dursley finds his tongue?" Richard said acidly.

The Judge nodded and agreed and Richard packed up all his papers and folders into his briefcase and hurried him out of the courtroom. He didn't speak again until they reached the little café where they had bought coffee earlier that morning.

"That man is very frustrating."

Harry couldn't help laughing. He knew all about that, after all.

"Order what you want, Harry. We've got enough time to get a bite to eat."

"Is the case going well?" Harry asked uncertainly.

"It might be very frustrating, but it's definitely going in our favour at the moment." Richard said. "Silence is definitely not golden in a court room. Not answering a question can be as bad as an admission of guilt. So yes, while it is frustrating, it's also good for us because while he refuses to answer, the Judge and Jury are coming to their own conclusions and they're going to be reading the silence as an admission of guilt."

Harry nodded and breathed out a sigh.

"How are you feeling?" Richard asked him.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Better than my first trip to the court, but it's still….I don't know, weird I guess, to have all of these bad memories of my life laid out in front of all these people. I don't like it."

"You're doing wonderfully well." Richard told him kindly as he stood up, patted him on the shoulder and got his order and went to the counter to get their early lunch.

Harry put his elbows on the table and rested his head in his hands. He wondered what his mates were doing right about now with their children. He missed them so much. It would be about time to give Eva and Ave a bottle and Max would be making the kids lunches. He would give absolutely anything to be back at home with them right now.

Richard set a glass of lemonade down for him and eased himself into the chair opposite him. Harry lifted his head and thanked him quietly as he took a sip.

"Thinking about the kids?"

Harry nodded with a smile. "They're all coming on so well. I miss them. You know that Ave is going to be standing up for the first time any day now? I could miss that while I'm here, she could have already done it and I don't know about it."

"I am sorry that you might miss it, but this does need to be sorted and we're ready for court now. It's been pushed to the side and put off for too long already. I want you to have the justice that you deserve. It's not right for them to live in their luxurious four bedroomed house like the snobs that they pretend to be after what they did to you, Harry. You were a child, it's not right and I will not let them get away with it."

"I hate all the lies they're telling." Harry said sadly. "Painting me to be some criminal who hurt and frightened them. That's not me and the thought that even one person believes them, that they believe that I'm that sort of person, I hate it."

Richard patted his hand. "Harry, sweetheart, if one person in that court believes the rubbish that that man is spewing from his mouth, I'll eat this table. I doubt that even his lawyer believes him, he's just representing him for the money."

The waitress brought over their plates of food and Harry felt a little better and he ate his simple, yet delicious tomato and basil pasta as he thought about everything that he'd been told. Once they were done eating, Richard checked his watch before he ordered them a cake and a coffee each.

"Only a few more hours to survive now, Harry. I doubt very much that it'll go past three in the afternoon. You'll be home in time to catch play time with your kids before they have their dinner and are put to bed. Did I get their routine right?"

Harry chuckled as he picked apart his iced bun. "Yeah, but the older five have a bath after their dinner and an hour of down time with their quiet toys before they have a story and then bed."

"Is Braiden reading yet?" Richard asked with a wink.

Harry laughed. "No, but Tegan thinks that she can. It's adorable."

"You boys are doing so well."

Harry smiled and finished off his bun and coffee before he stood up and stretched. Richard did the same, left a note on the table as a tip for their waitress and then he left, carrying his briefcase and leading Harry back to the court house.

"We'll carry on much the same as we did before hand, so not a lot for you to do, but then I suppose that's preferable to you, isn't it?"

Harry nodded. "I just don't want to make a fool of myself."

"You won't. You're going to be just fine."

They made it to the court building easily enough and they reclaimed their seats in the court and Richard set up all his folders and notes again and Harry watched him as he talked happily to some of the people milling around that he obviously knew, leaving Harry to settle himself and mentally prepare for the next few hours.

They passed quickly and very much exactly as that morning had gone. Richard asked questions, Vernon either called Harry a liar, a criminal or a violent delinquent or he remained silent when Richard poked holes in his declarations. He also remained silent when Richard slipped in odd, seemingly out of place repeated questions about Vernon keeping him locked in the cupboard or asking him why he never took him to the doctor or dentist, trying to get Vernon to slip up and admit to his guilt. Vernon was getting incredibly wound up and angry, but also increasingly more silent as Richard carried on, obviously afraid that he was going to say something to incriminate himself or his family. He obviously thought that silence was his best policy, Harry knew different, the truth was eventually going to come out and these unanswered questions were going to come back to bite him.

"I need an answer, Mister Dursley." Richard said sternly. "These clothes are not fit for a little boy to be wearing. They are ill-fitting, dirty, ripped and full of holes. Why did you never give Harry his own clothes that did fit him properly and weren't full of holes and tears? Clothes that would actually be able to protect him from the wind and rain? Harry's teachers even told me that Harry never had any sort of coat or jacket, not even in the winter when it was snowing."

Vernon used his favoured tactic of remaining silent and Richard sighed heavily so that everyone in the room could hear him.

"Can I assume then that this was yet another tactic to humiliate and subdue your already beaten down nephew?" He asked. "Coupled, of course, with you not spending so much as a penny on him?"

Vernon's face, already red from Richard's intrusive and unrelenting questioning and insinuations that he was an abusive monster, went almost purple. It must have been killing him on the inside to keep silent. He was not a man used to holding his tongue after all.

"We'll go with that view then." Richard said as he made a show of writing something down on the A4 notepad in front of him. "So, if you used ragged clothing as a way to humiliate Harry, if you allowed him to leave your home and wander around in these clothes, then why didn't anyone notice? Why didn't anyone call social services? You had neighbours, they must have said something to you or to your Wife over the state of his clothing? What did you tell them?"

Vernon stayed quiet again and Richard's jaw clenched in frustration.

"Harry had a second hand school uniform also, while not in such disrepair as his 'everyday' clothes, they were still shabby, ill-fitting and getting increasingly threadbare as the years passed as it seems that they were never replaced once in all his primary school years. I've already stated that the teachers all saw him without a coat, they must have had concerns, Mister Dursley and as Harry's guardians they would have brought those concerns to you. What did you tell them?" Richard all but demanded.

Vernon infuriatingly stayed quiet. He hadn't answered a single question in ten minutes now. Even Harry was getting frustrated and he was just sitting down and watching everything, he had no idea how Richard was holding himself back from leaping over the table and throttling Vernon to make him answer the questions, but it seemed that the Judge had finally had enough as well.

"We will leave the case here for today." He said irritably, the permanent scowl on his face had deepened to something fiercer and more terrifying. "I would suggest that you instruct your client to answer the questions that he's being asked, Mister Chorley." He said, addressing the Dursleys' lawyer. "Court is dismissed for the day, to be reconvened here tomorrow at nine in the morning. Perhaps an overnight break will help you remember to answer the questions asked of you, Mister Dursley."

Harry bit his lip to keep from grinning as Vernon looked like he'd explode. He waited while Richard packed up his papers again and they left. This time for home. It was about two in the afternoon and he was very happy that he wouldn't be missing much of his children's routine. They'd just be waking up from their afternoon naps.

Richard Apparated him to his front garden again and Harry held on a bit longer than he usually would have.

"Thank you. For everything."

"Are you going to hug me and thank me every time we come back from court? Myron might get jealous when I snatch you up and run away with you."

Harry laughed and rubbed at his eyes. "Myron would kill you."

"Harry, I'm planning on it." Richard said with a naughty wink.

Harry grinned widely as he opened the front door and walked into his home, he stopped dead at the sight that greeted him. A naked Calix screeched happily from where he was sat in the hallway, a wooden spoon in his hand that he bashed excitedly on the wooden floor when he saw Harry walk in.

Harry just sighed and shook his head as he bent down and picked up his seventeen month old son. Obviously his mates couldn't keep track of all of them at the same time and Calix, the usual suspect, had slipped away from his watchers, had stripped himself bare, had somehow managed to get a wooden spoon from the kitchen and get himself into the hallway with it without anyone even noticing. He wondered if it would be a good idea to wire every inch of the house up with monitor cameras.

"Mama, spoo."

"Have you got a spoon?" Harry asked with a smile. "I bet you've been making lots of noise and having a lot of fun with that, haven't you."

"Is that you, Harry?"

"Yes. Why is Calix naked in the hallway playing with a wooden spoon?"

"What?"

Blaise came out of the living room and he just stared. He looked behind him into the living room and then looked back.

"Nasta!" He called out.

Nasta came down quickly from upstairs, a bit panicked until he saw them and he smiled when he saw Harry. He came to kiss him, resting a hand on his back comfortingly. Then he saw a naked Calix in Harry's arms. It was hard to miss him when he bashed the top of Nasta's head with the spoon in his hand.

"Spoo!" He called out with a grin.

"Why is he not wearing anything and where did he get a spoon?" Nasta asked even as he rubbed the top of his head.

"I have no idea. I can't even find his clothes or his nappy." Blaise replied, scratching his head in confusion.

Harry rolled his eyes and he went looking for Calix's clothes before he had an accident.

"Get him a clean nappy." He said as he handed Calix over to Nasta.

He went into the kitchen to see Max surgically wiping down his counters and cupboards. Calix's clothes and nappy were in a strewn pile on the other side of the island.

"Hi Max." Harry greeted happily.

"Harry, you're earlier than I thought you'd be. Are you alright?"

"Completely fine, but would you mind explaining this?" Harry asked as he bent down and picked up the clothes and the nappy.

Max blinked and he came around the island.

"I have no clue. I couldn't tell you how they got there. Calix was wearing that tee shirt though."

Harry nodded. "Yep. He was naked in the hallway bashing around one of your wooden spoons when I came home."

Max turned and opened a cupboard, pulling out a drawer, obviously looking for his wooden spoon.

"That sneaky little monster. He must have taken it after I'd washed it and before I'd put it away."

"How the hell could he have crawled in here, stripped off all his clothes and his nappy, taken a wooden spoon, gone back into the hallway and started bashing it about without any of you noticing?"

"I love this part." Richard said as he stood in the doorway grinning.

Harry huffed and he relaxed his shoulders. He breathed out a sigh and just let it go. He went into the living room and handed Nasta the little jeans and tee shirt, he took the spoon and handed it to Max, who had followed him.

"You might want to wash it again. It looks like he's had it in his mouth." Harry said when he saw the tiny teeth marks in the spoon.

"You little monkey." Max said as he hunched down and dug his fingers into Calix's belly.

Calix screeched and wriggled around, turning onto his belly to get away from Max's fingers, even as Nasta tried to get him dressed.

"No, Dada." Calix insisted with a giggle.

"Come on you, we need to get you dressed again. And here I thought that it was only Regan who didn't like having his clothes on." Nasta sighed.

Harry laughed happily and watched as Nasta wrestled a giggling Calix back into his clothes.

"Muma!"

Harry turned to smile at Farren who was in Draco's arms. Harry took a reaching, grasping Farren and kissed Draco lovingly.

"He actually went down for a nap? Who's such a good boy?!" Harry turned to coo at Farren, who held Harry tight around the neck and refused to come out to look at him, which was unusual.

"He's been grouchy all day, he even left some of his lunch."

That concerned Harry as he turned to Farren, who just held him tighter and kept his head burrowed in Harry's neck.

Harry sat down on the settee and he was even more concerned when Farren whined and stood up, a foot on either side of Harry's hips, and kept his arms clamped around his neck, a wet face buried into the side of his neck.

"Farren, baby, are you okay?" Harry asked as he tried to get a look at him.

Nasta picked Farren up from behind and pulled him away and that's when Farren started full out crying, rapidly working himself up to hysterical. Harry stood up quickly and he checked on Farren, checking how he looked, checking his temperature.

"I can't see anything wrong with him." He said. "Do you think we should get a Healer for him?" He asked.

"I think he just missed you." Max said as he used his wand to check Farren over. "He seems fine as far as I can tell. There's no temperature, no signs of injury or infection, he hasn't hurt himself today, no bumped head…nothing."

Harry took Farren back from Nasta and those arms wrapped tight around his neck again and Farren snuffled his face back into his collar. Harry cuddled him tightly and sat back on the settee and kicked his shoes off.

"So how was it?" Draco asked as Farren calmed down with Harry's hand rubbing soothing circles on his back.

"He did wonderfully. Honestly, this case is going to be a long one, but it's going in our favour and it'll stay that way." Richard said in a pleased tone of voice. "Harry was getting upset though, so you boys look after him and show him some love."

With that bombshell, Richard said goodbye to them and flooed out of their home after catching Ave, Tegan, Leolin and Calix for a kiss.

"What did he mean?" Blaise asked. "What upset you?"

Harry sighed. "I knew they were going to do it, but hearing them paint me as a vicious, violent delinquent with mental problems was upsetting. They actually said that I was the one hitting and hurting them and that I intimidated them and that they were afraid of me! I just didn't like it."

"They won't get away with lying in court." Max assured him.

"The truth will come out and then you will have the justice that you deserve and that you need to move on and you can put it all behind you." Nasta said soothingly. "When are you going back?"

Harry sighed. "Tomorrow. Nine in the morning. Vernon wasn't being cooperative, he barely answered any questions at all and the ones that he did answer were all lies about me. That's why we're back early, I think even the Judge got fed up in the end."

"That's a very bad sign." Max said. "For them I mean!" He clarified when Draco glared at him. "My Dad always said that silence is golden everywhere except in a courtroom and the bedroom."

That startled a laugh from Harry. It was exactly something that Richard would say, though he couldn't imagine Myron being very impressed with Richard for saying such a thing to their young children. It made him laugh harder.

"Have you had anything to eat?" Max asked.

Harry nodded. "I had pasta and a cake for lunch. I could do with tea and biscuits though." He said with a wide eyed pleading look.

Max grinned, bent over and kissed him. "You don't even need that look to get me to do anything you want." He said huskily. "You just have to ask."

"I know, I just like seeing your reaction when I do make that face." Harry said with a wink.

Max laughed and Harry could sense that Nasta was rolling his eyes next to him. Harry looked at him and smiled.

"I saw that." He said.

"Saw what?" Nasta asked.

"You rolling your eyes at me."

"Impossible." Nasta answered as he pulled Harry into his side.

"It's my sixth sense. Some people can see dead people, others claim they're psychic or that they're seers. I know when you're rolling your eyes at me."

"Seems to me like you got the short end of the stick." Blaise teased.

Harry shifted Farren, only for him to whine and clutch at him closer. He sighed.

"How bad has he been?"

"All of them have been calling out for you all day, but Farren wouldn't let anyone else touch him and when we picked him up, he lashed out at us and started pushing us away. He had a tantrum at lunch and he refused to eat anymore of his food, so we took him upstairs for an early nap. He screamed for ten minutes, but he tired himself out and when we took the others up after they'd finished eating to put them in bed, he was fast asleep." Draco told him.

Harry nodded as he carried on rubbing soothing patterns onto Farren's back, even as he watched Calix zoom around the floor on his hands and knees, thankfully with his clothes and nappy still on this time.

"Where are Braiden and Regan?" He asked.

"Still napping. Leolin's in the kitchen bassinet and Eva's in that one by there, they're still sleeping as well."

Harry nodded as he watched Tegan stand up with her favourite penguin in hand and she pushed a book up onto the settee and hauled herself up after it. She sat down in the corner, penguin tucked meticulously into her side as she readjusted it several times before she was happy with its position and then she opened the book and started babbling aloud, reading the book to her penguin, whose eyes were facing the pictures of the book. Harry grinned as he watched her.

"She is so adorable." He sighed lovingly.

"She hit Regan earlier." Max said as he came back into the room.

"Really?" Harry asked in surprise.

Max nodded. "He tried to take one of the books off of her, so she swung it at him. It caught his thigh."

"Bruised?" Harry asked and then nodded when Max did. "Alright, we can deal with that."

Harry took a sip of tea and he bit into a biscuit. He used said biscuit to try and coax Farren out from his neck. It didn't work as it always had before.

Harry tickled him instead and he kept at it when he heard Farren's little giggles and huffs of air into his neck. Eventually, after twenty minutes of having Farren latched around his neck, his little son peeked out and Harry grinned at him, darting in to peck a kiss to his little drooly mouth. Farren laughed at that and he turned to face Harry, who was very happy to repeat the process.

Farren eventually sat on Harry's lap, facing him of course, and was happy to play with him. Harry was very happy to see his lively boy back as he played with Farren, feeding him little broken pieces of biscuit.

Braiden and Regan woke up near enough within a minute of one another, Eva was brought out of the bassinet to wriggle around the floor and Leolin was handed to him when Farren was comfortable enough to wriggle himself onto the floor to play with Braiden and Calix.

"I didn't like seeing him like that." He told his lovers as he watched Farren laugh hysterically with Braiden as they built a tower only to repeatedly knock it over.

"This court case won't last forever." Nasta reminded him as he petting Leolin's black hair softly.

"I know, but if he's this distressed over me leaving for the day and if I have to go to court everyday now, then he's going to be distressed all day, every day." Harry said miserably.

"It won't be every day." Max said soothingly. "It'll be four days a week, no weekends and it won't be all day either. Like today it'll be a couple of broken hours. We'll get through this, Harry. We will. It's going to be fine."

Harry nodded even as he bit his lip nervously.

"Come here." Blaise said as he moved to sit next to him. He pulled him into a hug and Harry smiled as he cuddled in with Leolin. "Everything is going to work out, you'll see, Prezioso."

Harry twisted onto his back and put his head in Blaise's lap and his feet in Nasta's as he cuddled Leolin on his chest. His little Faerie baby scowled at the movement but when he caught Harry's green eyes, his golden ones lit up and he grinned gummily at him.

"Ma." He chanted over and over until Harry kissed those tiny lips with a smile.

"I love you too, Leolin. You're my special little boy and you are doing so fantastically well. Mummy and your Daddies are all very proud of you.

"Ma da." He repeated and Harry nodded as he softly patted his nappy clad bottom.

"I'm going to go start their dinners." Max said as he finished his tea and hefted his huge body out of his seat. "Maybe now that you're here Farren will eat all of his food."

"I hope so. It's strange to hear that he hasn't eaten everything in front of him." Harry answered.

"Not as strange as knowing that you've eaten and I haven't made it for you." Max said.

"Your pasta is better." Harry said with a smile. "You've ruined me for any other food. Even restaurant food isn't as nice as yours."

Draco and Blaise both scoffed and heckled at him.

"You suck up." Blaise accused with a grin.

"I'm not sucking up, it's true!" Harry said. "I really like Max's cooking."

"I love you." Max said as he bent over him to give him a long, passionate kiss with lots of tongue. It only stopped when Max jumped and moved away carefully, Leolin's hand was fisted tight in his hair, tugging hard.

Harry carefully lifted a hand to worm between Leolin's tiny fingers. He freed Max's hair and Max sighed in relief.

"Thanks, love."

"Go while you still can." Harry laughed.

Max grinned and patted Leolin's back before he left for the kitchen happily, humming under his breath.

Harry laughed before he turned back to Leolin and cuddled him in tightly.

"When are Dain and Kailen coming back to see him?" He asked and he felt Nasta stiffen under him.

"I haven't asked them."

Harry sighed and dug the heel of his foot into Nasta's leg.

"They've explained, Nasta. Not even you can hold such a thing against them. We're all doing so well and the kids are coming to know them better too."

Nasta said nothing and Harry sat up and snuggled back into his side. He kissed under his chin, feeling the scratch of his stubble against his skin which made him smile.

"They're trying. They're trying so hard, you need to try a little too. Please?"

Nasta grunted and Harry took what he could get. He passed Leolin over to Nasta and stood up and stretched before he settled himself back on the floor. He joined in a game with his children and he smiled as Ave crawled over his knee and Tegan put her book down to toddle over to him to play as well.

It was loud, boisterous and Harry loved it as he laughed and played long with his beautiful, wonderful children. He'd missed them so much while he was at the court and he was upset that he'd have to do it all again tomorrow.

He really couldn't wait for this all to be over and he could just hole himself up with his children and stay with them for as long as they needed him. He felt a lot more confident that the court case was going to go in his favour, Vernon hadn't instilled any sense of fear in him with his continued silence on such important and telling questions. He just hoped that when it was his turn that he could answer all of the questions asked of him without making a complete fool out of himself. He knew that the trick was to take a moment to think his answer through first, to breathe and not let his mouth take over in a nervous, panicked ramble. He'd been practicing with Draco and he was feeling better about taking the stand, but it would not be an experience that he'd ever want to repeat.

Max called them to say that the kids' dinners were ready and Harry stood up and clapped his hands.

"Come on babies, into the kitchen!" He called and he moved off, waiting to see if his kids followed him.

Braiden stood up and hurried to his side, as did Tegan. Calix crawled ahead of him and went right into the kitchen to meet Max and Farren stood himself up and toddled over.

Regan just stared at him however and Eva and Ave played with one another on the floor.

Draco scooped up Regan and Blaise took Eva and Ave and Harry moved off into the kitchen, where Max had already gotten Calix into his highchair and was waiting for the others.

"Baby exercise! No more being carried for you!" Max teased them as he hefted them up into their seats.

Farren and Braiden had now progressed to being in booster seats at the table, which gave them much more room to move and they liked it much better. Tegan and Regan hadn't liked it at all and Calix had kept trying to slip himself out by standing up, which he could do more easily in a booster seat than in a highchair, so for safety, they'd kept him in his highchair for now.

Harry sat opposite Farren and Braiden and when Max put their little plates down, Farren looked at him with wide eyes and Harry picked up the little fork and filled it with food to offer to Farren, who grinned and ate happily, even as his older brother fed himself, a little awkwardly and clumsily, but nonetheless he could feed himself and he was improving all the time. Harry smiled as he watched all of his family in one room. He wanted this damn court case done and over with. He wanted more days like this.

Harry continued feeding Farren, but his attention was caught by Max, who was at the counter and he was peeling vegetables and chopping them up.

"Why are you starting dinner so soon?" He asked as he watched Farren eating his food.

"I'm doing a roast today. A nice family dinner. I know they're one of your favourites." Max answered.

Harry grinned at that, because it was true. He'd said something similar a long time ago. It made him happy to know that Max had remembered such a random piece of information.

"What meat?" He asked as his belly rumbled.

Max shot him a grin over his shoulder. "Beef. Nice and rare and tender, just how you like it."

"He wouldn't even give me a bit." Blaise pouted. "He drove us all crazy slow cooking it all day and then he wouldn't even let me try the tiniest piece!"

Harry laughed and even Nasta managed a smile as he fed Leolin a bottle at the counter adjacent to Max. He really loved days like these. He was going to make the absolute most of it before tomorrow, when he'd be back in court. His family deserved that much at least.

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