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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77. Chapter Seventy-Five – Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests

Richard sighed as he dragged himself up the stairs of his home and he slipped into his study. He was bone tired and he felt drained from the several hours that he had spent with Harry. Speaking of which, he looked around the room at his current 'active' case. Pictures of Harry and the Dursleys stared back at him from the walls, pictures of Harry's 'bedroom' were everywhere and he sighed again, moving around his desk to put his briefcase down, ignoring the three other desks and tables where documents and handwritten notes were lined up neatly and ready for the court case.

He was as prepared as he could be, but talking to Harry had really, really helped, no matter how they both felt now afterwards and the photos were a serious boost to their evidence cache.

He took them from his briefcase and he closed his eyes. He swallowed tightly and put them down. He couldn't look at them again today, he'd sort through them later, but he had done too much already today. He turned and left his study, hunting down Myron, who thankfully didn't work weekends.

"I was expecting you back an hour or so ago." Myron said, looking up from his paperwork on the desk of his own study as Richard opened the door and walked inside.

Richard didn't answer but he approached his lover and pushed Myron back from the desk on his expensive swivel chair and he crawled into his lap, sitting astride his legs, still saying nothing, just holding onto his lover and tucking himself into him like they were teenagers still.

"That bad?" Myron asked softly, rubbing his back gently.

"Worse." Richard forced out, his voice strained with pain and the unshed tears that he refused to let fall. "It was worse than worse, My. I have no idea how he came out of that hellhole as the wonderful person that we know today. He should be a bitter boy who is locked up and afraid of his own shadow, but he's not."

"He's a very strong young man."

"That's not it. His strength of character, to come through what he has and still be able to interact normally with others, to react normally and to force away his own emotions and thoughts to do what he knows is right."

"Tell me." Myron said softly, encouragingly.

Richard shook his head. "I don't think I can, several hours of listening to him lay out some of the most horrific details possible. That it happened to our boy, our boy, Myron! I almost lost control several times in the restaurant and that was with the help of a calming draught too. That poor boy, I could cry for the innocence that he lost, for what he had to survive through in that house. He never deserved that…no child deserves that."

"Did you find out if he was…violated?"

Richard shook his head. "He wasn't, thank Merlin! Harry said that they thought that he was contagious, so they never touched him more than necessary and never like that."

"We can take a small mercy in that, if nothing else."

"Did you have any more luck with Ashleigh?"

"I really think we have to let the kids handle her, if she still doesn't see sense from them, then we'll know that she is no longer our Ashleigh and I will order her to seek medical help, I don't want to, but she's not the woman I fought so hard for anymore, Richard, she's changed, different. We see Harry as ours, why can't she?"

"I know what you mean, but I'm worried, I know that Harry isn't of our blood or bodies, but we still see him as our son, we see him as ours, Myron and he's younger than all of our children. Does Ashleigh still see our babies as hers, or have they been bumped off with the flood of grandchildren too?"

Myron actually considered it and that alone proved exactly how little they thought of their submissive mate at the moment and proved that Richard wasn't alone in his fears for their children.

"She wasn't avoiding them like she was Harry, I don't know why he seems to be setting her on edge when he did everything that Amelle didn't. Everything that she wanted he gave to her, she should have been so thankful and grateful to him. Not a lot of submissives would have been as kind or as thoughtful, he pushed aside his own instincts to give her what she wanted the most, something we as dominants should have condemned, but we didn't, because he had made our submissive happy."

"I think it's wonderful that he handed his newborns over so trustingly, it proves if nothing else how much Harry thinks of our Max, how much he trusts him, to listen to him against his own instincts to hand our Ashleigh his baby."

Myron smiled at that thought, that Harry trusted his oldest son so much; it made him so glad that Maximilius had found someone so perfect for him. Other submissives might not have been so tolerant of his sense of humour, or his childish ways, and would have sought a way to put a stop to it and that Harry not only accepted that part of Max, but actively encouraged and joined in sometimes made Max so happy, and that was all Myron could ask for as a Father.

"We'll sort this mess out, Richard, I swear it. Ashleigh must be taken to hand before she pulls apart our family further and the monsters that hurt Harry so much will never be free to hurt him again, even if the court case falls through and I have to exact my own justice for a second time."

"I don't want you dead or in Azkaban, Myron." Richard said softly, looking at Myron imploringly. "The justice system works, you need to trust in that, trust in me, those people are not getting away with what they did, no jury on Earth will rule them not guilty after all the evidence that I have. They won't get away with it."

"Then there's no need to worry." Myron insisted. "If they face life imprisonment, I won't have need to track them down and kill them for daring to touch our youngest."

"With the pictures that Harry gave me today, they are definitely facing thirty years or more, depending on the judge, and I'm aiming to get Mister Justice Brais, he's well known for being extremely hard on child related crimes."

"What pictures?" Myron demanded.

Richard shook his head. "Nothing for you to worry about, they're evidence."

"What do they show?" Myron asked softly, too softly. Richard swallowed nervously and he wondered if he told what those pictures showed; would Myron go to the holding cells and just outright kill the Dursleys before he could stop him?

"Scars." He said softly, deciding that Myron wouldn't let it drop if he didn't tell him. "Harry took photos of the injuries and scars that those monsters left on his body before his inheritance wiped them away."

"Who took the photos? Why didn't they come forward and report it?!" Myron hissed enraged.

Richard sighed. "There was a woman next door to Harry who took most of the photos from when he was a child, she kept telling him that they needed more evidence before they could go to the police, but Harry worked out, even at that young age, that she was too cowardly to act and that they would never have enough evidence for that woman to take him to the police and report it, she died a few years after they started. Aneurism. Harry snuck in and got the photos before anyone found them and he kept them hidden in his…in his cupboard." Richard swallowed painfully.

"What about the other photos, are there more after that point?"

Richard nodded. "Harry took most of them himself, but when he went to Hogwarts he got Hermione and the Weasley boy to carry on taking the photos of just his back."

"And they didn't report it, not even to a teacher?"

"They were kids, Myron, just like Harry."

"They weren't being abused!"

"Harry didn't tell them that he was being abused!" Richard refuted, trying to get it into his Husband's thick skull. "He told them that his cousin did all the damage; he said it was just a sort of sibling rivalry, that they fought, but because his cousin was bigger and heavier, Harry lost most of the time. He told them that the photos were just so he could see the back of his body, nothing more. They never understood or realised what was happening."

"Max said that the girl had no knowledge of the abuse."

"In a way she didn't. Children don't see a scar or a mark and automatically think child abuse like an adult might, they would have believed sibling fighting and accidents over an adult striking him, children don't understand, not even book smart children like Hermione. Harry said she still has no idea what's happening with his family. That'll change though this summer, when she goes home, the press is going to be all over this. A well off, suburban, Surrey family all arrested and facing court over child abuse and neglect? It'll be like a human swarm."

"Harry is our priority." Myron said strongly. "We protect him first and foremost."

"Obviously." Richard said, rolling his eyes as he shifted on Myron's lap. "I just want to make everything better for him, My. I can't stand to see him suffer so much. It hurts me, it hurt so badly to see his face as he was speaking, to watch the painful emotions twist over his face, to see him hurting and so uncomfortable in speaking about these things, I'd take it from him if I could."

Myron held him tighter, closer at that and Richard sighed, letting his body relax against that larger chest. Myron may not have been the spry, young twenty-one year old that had first caught his eye in those meetings, but for a man in his fifties, he wasn't bad at all.

Many men by now, even Drackens, had gotten comfortable and lazy, eating too much and not doing enough exercise, but Myron took everything in moderation and he took being the family's protector seriously, very seriously.

He was a bit softer than he had been back then, but Richard didn't mind in the least. Myron was still fit and healthy, still able to chase the kids down if needed, still able to climb a tree after an errant niece or nephew at family get togethers, he was still strong enough to make him feel safe and secure when he was wrapped in those large arms, even more so in those impenetrable wings, and he was definitely still able to fuck him into a babbling mess. What more did he need from his dominant mate and Husband?

The last week before the exams hit was the worst week of Harry's life. Every single little thing annoyed and frustrated him; the teachers had given up on setting homework for the seventh years after the first round of hysterics and breakdowns, expertly dealt with by Madam Pomfrey, and instead gave them revision work, which was just as hard and challenging, just as annoying and frustrating as the homework, but at least they didn't have to hand it in at the end or face detention if they didn't actually do it.

Hermione was just as possessed as Blaise, and Draco wasn't any better than them and the three of them were driving him mad. He understood the need for a good job and that his mates were being driven by instincts as well as their competitive streaks and their need to prove themselves as the best, but this was too much, never before had he had the urge to just smother them in their sleep and he didn't like the urge.

Calix finally cut his first tooth, followed by Tegan's second tooth, Braiden cut two more and the three of them were so unhappy and pained that it took most of Harry's attention, despite Nasta trying to get him to revise as much as possible as he tried to deal with three miserable, grizzling, teething kids.

"Harry, go and do your revision worksheets." Nasta told him firmly for the seventh time in an hour.

"Calix is…"

"I don't care. Go and revise, now."

Harry could do nothing but listen to his top dominant, but he made his feelings very, very clear by glaring at Nasta, trying to burn a hole through his head, as he left the bedroom. Nasta sighed wearily and picked Calix up, who was trying to relieve the pain in his gums by chewing on his foot and toes, one little sock clenched in one hand balled up in pain, his cheeks flushed a dark red like he had been smacked on each cheek.

Nasta scratched at the irritating scruff on his chin, the hairs itching as they grew back in and he sat on the purple settee with Calix in his arms, trying to sooth him. He'd only just managed to settle his only daughter down and now his little son was off and he'd bet that as soon as he calmed Calix down, Braiden would start again. It was endless.

He hated ordering any of the others around, particularly Harry, the subordinate dominants needed a bit of ordering around and keeping in line and reminding that he was the top dominant and not them, but with Harry it just felt wrong and it made him feel terrible. Harry was mostly amicable and passive when he chose to be, even with his temper he was more mature than most, so ordering him to be even more so felt like abuse in whatever small way, or maybe he only felt that way because the court case that was taking up half of Harry's mind these days was looming ever closer. Either way, he hated it, but sometimes it was necessary, Harry needed to keep up with his revision work. It was important, Harry needed to graduate and even if a crisis hit them, he needed to do that revision, so they had three teething babies, it could wait, he could handle it. He'd have to handle it.

Applying more of the seemingly useless teething gel to Calix's gums, particularly around the little spot of white that was the emerging tooth, Nasta rocked him as he sniffled, a little hand clenching so tight around the sock Nasta would have been worried about his tiny nails breaking the skin had it not been there. To think that Calix was so agitated and pained that he would squeeze his hand so tightly as to break the skin on his palm had his arm muscles bulging with the effort it took not to hug delicate Calix half to death.

"It's alright, Calix; it's just a tooth, Baban, calm down." He soothed softly, even knowing that it wasn't going to work, knowing that to Calix it wasn't 'just a tooth' and that for the child in his arms that tooth was a red hot agony.

His premonition had been wrong though; he hadn't even finished soothing Calix before Braiden was blinking open indigo eyes, a wail caught in his throat as he sniffled.

Nasta scooped him up too and held them in either arm. He just hoped that Tegan didn't wake up now as well, or any other baby for that matter, because he would loath to call Harry in here to help him after ordering him away. He cursed Max, who had chosen today of all days to go and confront his Mother with his brother and three sisters.

"It's all right boys, it's okay. Daddy is here, I'll look after you." He soothed, but of course that wasn't enough, something had to go wrong and it did as he heard sudden shouting from next door.

He didn't want to, but he had to put the two boys down and go and see what his subordinates and submissive were doing, he hated leaving his sons though, as they started screaming as soon as he put them down and stopped soothing them.

Nasta was not impressed to find Draco and Blaise shouting at one another, Harry looking tearful between them, a hand up to both of their chests to hold them apart. He could well imagine that this is how the other fight had started, the one where Blaise had ended up with a broken arm and Harry with two broken fingers. He stormed to them and ripped them apart violently, holding back the urge to throw them into opposite walls.

"What is the matter with you both?!" He hissed. "Do you hear that crying? That's the sound of Calix and Braiden screaming in agony because I had to leave them to come and see to you two because you can't act like adults for two fucking minutes!"

None of them said anything, Nasta rarely swore and he rarely looked so angry and when his fangs popped out of his gum line, that is when they knew that they had crossed a line.

"Harry, go and boil the kettle please." He said as calmly as he could, trying to suppress the hint of a growl in his voice, it wasn't Harry that he was angry at and he wanted to show that in whatever small way that he could in this situation, Harry hadn't been involved as far as he could tell.

He shoved both of his subordinates onto their knees and twisted a hand into their hair at the back of their heads and yanked it until they were looking up at him with gritted teeth.

"You will tell me what set you off this time and I swear to Merlin, if it's not a good enough reason I'll force you into separate rooms to study."

Neither of them answered and he was going to put some weight of an order into the question when Harry answered from where he was setting up bottles.

"They were questioning one another and Blaise didn't believe that he'd gotten an answer wrong and accused Draco of misleading him so that he would get a better score in the exams." Harry said softly.

Nasta couldn't believe that that was what this was all about and he snarled, yanking their hair further aside and he sunk his fangs first into Draco and bit down, before biting into Blaise and remaining there. As the instigator of the argument, Blaise needed a harsher punishment.

Nasta left the wounds bleeding for five minutes as he lectured them on how to behave, how to react and exactly what not to do in their rooms, around their submissive with their children present before he licked at Draco's wounds, bit into his own arm and let Draco drink. He left Blaise's wounds bleeding for a further five minutes before letting him drink his blood to heal himself and he let go of them and walked back into the bedroom to help Harry with the feedings. He couldn't take much more of this behaviour, he couldn't wait until the exams were over and done with and they were out of this damned, cursed school.

This had been the worst week, no, the worst month that he had ever had to live through, it was no wonder the number of older dominants killing younger dominants was so high, if those younger dominants were still in school then he completely understood now why they did what they did. These subordinates were driving him insane, but he was strong enough to not kill them for such things, he loved them far too much, but they were seriously trying his patience.

The exams hit them with the force of gravity, tugging them down, flat to the ground and pinning them in place as exhaustion covered them like a familiar blanket that held no warmth or comfort.

Harry, Draco and Blaise were all frustrated and agitated, Max and Nasta were tired, grouchy and short tempered. Leolin had developed colic, Calix's tooth had come through only to give way to severe nappy rash, Braiden and Tegan had calmed down, but Farren cut all four front teeth together and that alone was worse than anything else they could have faced.

Max hoisted Regan over his shoulder as the little boy giggled and squirmed, the only child who was being well behaved and was actually happy at the moment.

Max put him down on the carpet in a mass of toys and the little boy squealed in delight, doing his little worm wriggling act to reach the nearest one. He was hopeful that any day now that he would start moving properly, the brand new camcorder that Harry had begged for was on standby on the side table, ready to be picked up and used the moment that a baby did so much as squirm differently.

Nasta came in with a grouchy Farren and a crying Leolin and Max held his arms out for the Faerie baby, putting him over his knees and rubbing his little tummy with just two fingers, following the line of the large intestine to help relieve the tiny little boy of his discomfort and pain while Nasta took a frozen teething ring out of the cold storage and handed it to Farren to gnaw on.

"How is he?" Max asked, not stopping his massage of Leolin's belly.

"Miserable." Nasta answered tiredly. "Why did he have to cut four teeth at the same time?"

"He's awkward." Max smiled, even if it was tired and weak.

Nasta snorted as he came and collapsed next to Max with a teary Farren clenching his jaws tight around the frozen ring, whining around it, grizzling even as the cold soothed his inflamed gums and the clenching eased the pain of his emerging teeth.

"Just three more hours and our boys will be home." Max sighed. "They're on break at the moment."

Nasta nodded. "Hopefully cramming in some last minute revision."

"I'm surprised that Harry isn't here."

"I told him not to come, I told him to get something to eat and to revise while he could."

"I'm still surprised that he isn't here." Max chuckled.

Nasta chuckled himself as he bounced Farren as he chewed on his warming and softening teether. Nasta had had the smarts and the foresight to put a new one into the cold cupboard ready for when this one lost it's hard and cold effects.

"The children are our responsibility at the moment, Max, leave the boys to their exams, we have to try and stop them worrying about anything else."

"Easier said than done with Harry, the kids are always on his mind, always his first priority, as it should be really, but he actually told me yesterday that he'd rather flunk school to stay here with the kids. I told him not to be so stupid and urged him onto his revision, but I swear he was serious. He would seriously risk not graduating just to be here."

Nasta sighed. "I know, he said something similar earlier in the year to me, but I won't let him fail his magical education. He's in his exams right now, so we can be thankful that even if he feels like he'd rather be here, he's actually going to graduate."

"If he passes his exams that is." Max pointed out. "He's been writing down anything for his homework for the last month just to get it over and done with, who's to say he's not doing the same with his exams?"

Nasta shook his head. "No. He knows how important these exams are and he doesn't want to repeat his seventh year, he's going to pass. I told him to do his best. He's not completely thick, I'm sure he'll be fine."

Max laughed at that. "Not completely thick." He quoted back with a grin.

"You know what I meant." Nasta waved off, though they were both grinning.

"Oh, only nine more days of this and then these exams are all over and our lives can really begin."

"You need to go back to your home before we need to go there, the dust needs to be gone, the house needs to be aired out and those cots need to be set up."

Max nodded his understanding and then grimaced as Leolin filled a nappy with a small sound of wind passing.

"Poor little boy, I hope you feel better for that now." Max said as he slipped carefully to the floor and slipped a changing mat out from under the settee, pulling the nappy bag over and set to changing Leolin, who did actually seem better than he had before or at least not as pained.

"Watch Regan, he's wiggling too close to the table." Nasta warned.

Max stopped in mid change and hoisted Regan back from the table one handed and placed him back into the mess of soft toys before finishing off changing Leolin and sighing when he was done.

He settled the little Faerie baby onto his special beanbag before going to dispose of the nappy, washing his hands and then boiling the kettle.

"Do you want tea, Nas, or a smoothie?"

"Smoothie please." Nasta replied as he tried to keep Farren happy, even as his blue-green eyes teared up again.

Max pulled the jug of the freshly made smoothie from the cold cupboard. Nasta made an entire jug fresh every morning and this one was mainly kiwi and apple, with a bit of pineapple and some lime juice squeezed into it, so it was a lumpy, dull green and very thick. Max wouldn't have drunk it purely for that reason alone.

Regardless of his preference Max poured a glass of the thick, green smoothie and put the jug back into the cold cupboard, taking the glass over and handing it to Nasta, kissing his oldest son as he did so, kissing away the silent tears.

"Don't cry, sweetheart. You have your Daddies here, that should be more than enough for you to be happy; nasty Mummy is away doing mean exams as punishment for being no fun."

Nasta snorted. "Harry will eat you alive if he hears you saying that to any of them."

"Muma?" Farren looked around and blinked his sea coloured eyes as he didn't immediately see Harry. He started crying in earnest when Harry didn't magically appear to his call and he called out several times again, crying harder. "Muma!"

Max groaned and took Farren from Nasta and hefted him over one large shoulder.

"Come on, buddy. No crying or you'll have to have a spoon of castor oil."

Coincidentally this made Farren cry harder, without knowing what castor oil was, which amused Max, but made Nasta's scowl deepen.

"Don't punish him with food or Harry really will kill you."

"Castor oil isn't food; it's more like engine oil." Max refuted.

"It's edible and it's administered orally, I doubt Harry will care how it tastes once he hears."

Max rolled his eyes but dutifully didn't mention it again as he shushed Farren and got him a new teether out of the cold cupboard to bite on.

"Is he still not better?" Draco asked, coming in and slipping his shoes and tie off immediately. He looked drained and exhausted, his pale face pinched with lack of sleep, stress and overwork.

Max shook his head as he walked around the room with Farren, who was crying on his shoulder and around the frozen teether he was gumming furiously between grizzles.

Draco collapsed onto the settee with a groan and when Nasta pulled him into his body and let him rest against his chest, Draco didn't complain or kick up a fuss, which made Nasta grin to Max, who rolled his eyes yet again.

"How did the exam go?" Nasta hedged cautiously, aware that if Draco didn't think that he had done well, then he could throw a tantrum, not as bad as Blaise would if he thought he hadn't done well, but still bad for a seventeen year old man.

"Alright I believe, but no one really knows." He said, but he took his question paper from his pocket and scoured it critically. "There were a few questions that I had to embellish with an educated guess, but other than that, I'd say I got an EE at the least, if not an O."

"The practical?"

"Perfect." Draco said with a cocky smirk. "Nothing less than I expected, my wand work is nearly always flawless and Transfiguration is one of my better subjects."

"Did you see Harry or Blaise?"

Draco nodded. "Harry was antsy, like he just wanted to get up and leave and Blaise is shitting himself."

Max groaned. "He seriously needs to calm himself down or he's going to have a stroke."

"It probably doesn't help that he is the very last person to be called up." Nasta sighed. "I offered for him to be Delericey-Zabini for the two exam weeks, so he'd go sooner, but he saw it as a weakness and declined."

"He'll be fine." Max said as he carried on pacing with Farren. "As soon as he's out of that exam, he'll be fine."

"Unless he thinks he's done poorly." Draco voiced the main problem of the situation.

Nasta squeezed him and kissed his forehead. "Let's not make problems where there may not be one."

Harry dashed into the room like a whirlwind and all but threw his stuff away from him before biting out quick hello's and scooping Regan up, turning him to pepper his little face with kisses.

"Did your exam go okay?" Nasta asked.

"I've only just escaped from there; please don't make me talk about it so soon." Harry groaned theatrically. "I want an hour, or seven, to reconnect with my babies."

"You've only been gone for five hours." Max laughed.

"It feels like so much longer." Harry sighed as he shifted with Regan up to the beanbag Leolin was on, his eyes only half opened and observing everyone around him sluggishly.

"Muma!" Farren called out miserably from Max's shoulder and Max handed him over with a sigh, partly relieved to be rid of him, which made him feel terrible, but also left him with a feeling of inadequacy that he couldn't calm his own son like Harry could.

"Oh come here, big boy. How are those four little teeth coming?" Harry asked softly, but Farren gripped onto Harry and buried his head in Harry's robes and cried onto him.

"He's been in pain all day." Nasta sighed. "He's gone through three teethers and that gel is useless."

"Oh sweetheart, come here to Mummy." Harry said as he let Regan go when he wiggled to go back to his toys and he cuddled his second oldest child tightly, letting Farren clutch at and cry on him.

It took just five minutes of Harry soothing and calming him for Farren to fall asleep in his arms and Harry held the five month old gently as he hummed under his breath, his other hand brushing the darkening hair from Leolin's closed eyes. He was certain now that the thin, pale, almost colourless hair that he had been born with would eventually turn black.

Harry smiled as he groomed Leolin's hair and hummed to Farren clutched on his chest. A flash had him turning a glare onto Nasta, who held his hands up with a grin.

"It was too adorable to pass up, it'll be one for the albums though." Nasta defended.

Harry rolled his eyes, but he stood up carefully and went to go and put Farren into his cot, hoping that he would sleep for a long while as his teeth grew in.

A look in at Tegan and Calix had Harry snatching up his remaining son and storming into the living room.

"Will the idiot who left Calix in his cot without supervision please go and clean up the mess he has made before I strangle you." He growled, his Dracken pulling to the forefront of his mind.

Harry pulled the changing mat out from under the settee and dragged out a pack of baby wipes to try and clean Calix up a bit before bathing him. He wondered who's bright idea it really was to leave Calix alone in his cot with no nappy on as Nasta rushed to go and clean the mess that had been made. Harry was just thankful that there was no mess on Calix's hands, he would have killed one of them had he touched anything or put it in his mouth. It didn't stop him from using a wipe on his hands and every single dainty digit though.

"One of you go and run him a bath please." Harry said, calming down a bit. No one knew that this was going to happen, but it was a huge oversight to leave a five month old bare and in a cot with no supervision. It had been a mistake, but hopefully they could learn from this and have it never happen again.

"I thought it would help his nappy rash to sleep with nothing on." Max admitted softly.

Harry sighed. "It has helped." He said as he touched the rash, which was fading. "But finding him sitting in his own filth is playing on my mind a little. Give me a minute."

"He's going to be fine as soon as Daddy Draco gives him a good, long scrub in the big bath." Draco said as he came and picked Calix up from the mat, kissing a cheek and carrying him off to the bathroom.

"Braiden's awake." Nasta said as he bought the cot sheets and linens out to be washed. "Max, go and buy a new mattress please, that one won't come clean, not even with spells."

Max nodded and went to get the old one to get rid of it and he went to buy a new one. They really did not need this stress on top of everything else. This was the wrong week for something like this to happen.

Of course things only got worse in the second week of the exams, when everyone's stress was already sky high, by the arrival of an owl the morning of the Charms theory exam and the Defence Against the Dark Arts theory and practical exams. An owl bearing a letter from one Remus Lupin.

"Seriously?" Blaise exploded over breakfast. "We hear nothing for weeks and he chooses now, now of all times, to answer?!"

"Calm down, Blaise." Nasta soothed, trying to keep his subordinate in line and to calm him down, this level of stress was not good for anyone and the babies were picking up on it, they had been quiet all morning.

Nasta hid his own anger underneath a tightly gripped steel mask. His anger mattered to no one; it would help nothing, so he wouldn't show it. He needed to think more for Harry right now, who had gone bone pale.

"Harry, we don't have to open this now." Nasta said carefully. "We can leave it until after the exams."

Harry just shook his head. "I'll never be able to concentrate on them if I don't read it."

"It's going to ruin your concentration either way." Max growled as he spooned itty bitty lumpy porridge into Braiden's waiting mouth.

Harry frowned and conceded to that silently as he took the letter from Nasta and opened it, glowering at Draco, who was trying to look over his shoulder.

Harry ignored that his hands were shaking as he took the parchment from the envelope and he read it with his heart in his throat. His one hand clenched in the parchment and his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest.

"What did he say?" Blaise asked as the silence stretched on.

"He's blaming me." Harry answered softly, feeling disconnected from everything, his head was staticky and the roaring between his ears deafened him.

"He's what?" Draco demanded as he snatched the letter from him and read it through quickly. "I can't believe that man, who the fuck does he think he is?!"

"It's fine, Draco." Harry said defeatedly.

"Fine? This is not fine! Look at what he wrote!" Draco burst out, handing the letter to Nasta, who was holding his anger back by the skin of his teeth.

After he read it, he didn't think he could be any more controlled than he already was and he was quivering in his skin, his anger trying to force the change into his Dracken side.

"I'm going to throttle him." He hissed, his voice mottled and distorted with the bass growl of his Dracken.

"He doesn't outright say it's my fault." Harry tried to defend weakly.

"No, but the way he's worded it makes you think that it's your fault, you said it yourself. He's blaming you!"

"I can't think of this right now." Harry said. "If he wants to blame me, then fine, let him. I'll sort it out after the exams, but right now, I have to focus on my Charms exam."

"Harry." Blaise tried softly.

Harry shook his head. "No. He's made his feelings very clear, I'll sort it out after school's ended, but until then, I don't want to hear any more about it."

Harry picked up Regan and cuddled him, but despite his own request of no one talking about it, he couldn't get the letter from his mind. Nasta was right, even though Remus hadn't outright said that it was his fault, the way the letter was worded made Harry automatically think that it was his fault. He didn't know if that was purposeful or accidental, but he would find out. Remus was his last link to his parents and to Sirius, he had come to care for the werewolf and no matter what the man thought or did, Harry wouldn't give up that link or stop caring for him so easily.

The letter played on his mind all day and during his theory Charms exam he had caught his mind wandering several times to Remus and the letter, resulting in him barely finishing the paper before the time limit was up. During the break he tried to eat a bit, tried to forget the letter, but he couldn't and Draco and Blaise bickering beside him didn't help, but he reached his limit when Hermione joined them, bickering over questions they had already answered and had no hope of changing. Did it really matter how long all of their answers were? Did it matter if they had forgotten to mention something? The exam was over; there was nothing else they could do about it even if they had forgotten the most crucial part of the answer!

He got up and left. He didn't even think they had noticed him leave, he didn't care. He went outside into the grounds for some air, enjoying the peace and the sun on his skin and he found his legs automatically taking him to Hagrid's hut.

On the off chance that he might be there, Harry knocked on the door. Fang started barking inside, loud and deep, from the other side of the door.

"Ge' back you dozy dog." Hagrid said before he yanked open the front door. "'Arry! Good te see yeh, come in, come in."

Harry couldn't help but smile as he entered the familiar and comforting hut and sat in one of the huge chairs that absolutely drowned him, it would have drowned Max and Myron too which said a lot as they were the tallest people that Harry knew outside of Hagrid, who was a half giant. He scratched Fang behind the ear happily as the boarhound came and put his huge head in his lap. It took him way back to his younger school years, when things were simpler, when he didn't have a family and severely elevated blood pressure, he still wouldn't change anything though, except perhaps fast forwarding the exams.

"How have you been, Hagrid?" Harry asked as the half giant rushed around setting up tea and a plate of rock cakes that Harry wasn't going to touch.

"Great, Harry! Do yeh have time to come an' see what I got for my next class?"

"I have my Defence exam soon, Hagrid, but maybe once they're over?"

"Course." Hagrid said with a grin and Harry was reminded harshly why he had gotten on so well with Hagrid in the first place. The man was just too friendly and jovial to think anything bad around him. "I've bin meaning to ask yeh, how are those kids o' yours?"

"They're great, Hagrid, they really are, I could talk for days to you about them and not get tired of it." Harry said with a grin. "Once the exams are over I'll bring them to meet you, but no baby dragons. Or Blast-ended Skrewts."

Hagrid waved a large hand at him. "Course not, that's for when they're a bit older. You are still sending them to Hogwarts aye?"

Harry nodded happily, ignoring the slight hint of panic that thinking of his children going to school brought up, but he shook it off, it wouldn't be for over ten years yet. He had time.

"Leolin won't be. As a Faerie he'll have private tutors from the Faerie city, but my other five will."

"I still can't believe you 'ad a Faerie folk."

Harry smiled. "Believe me, Hagrid, everyone is surprised. The Faerie court in particular. They send at least two letters a week now asking to meet him, but Nasta and I have made up our minds, we won't take him until after we've graduated and left the school, we don't have the time to be messing about."

"Good on yeh, those blasted, demanding Faeries should be the least of yeh worries!"

Harry laughed at that and nodded. "Yeah, they should be, but as I said, they're sending us letters every other day now so we can't really forget about them, they really want to see Leolin. I think it's because they want to verify that he is actually a Faerie, but Aneirin told Nasta, who then told me, that some of the Court wanted Leolin for themselves. If that's what this is about then they'll have to pry him from my dead body because I'd kill myself before I sacrificed him to those stuck up Faeries. He's my child and they can't have him."

"How dare they!" Hagrid roared in outrage on his behalf and Harry felt so much better that Hagrid was so loyal to their friendship. If only he could keep his mouth shut when he was drunk maybe he would feel more comfortable telling Hagrid about his species status.

"I just wish that the Faeries were the only thing that I had to worry about." Harry sighed, the letter popping back into his mind with all the talk of the letters from the Faerie Court.

"What do yeh mean, 'Arry?"

"It's Remus, he's just…I don't know, but I haven't heard from him in months, then out of the blue he tells me he's moved house, married Tonks and had a baby. I owled him back asking him why he didn't tell me sooner and the letter I got back this morning just avoided it completely and made me feel like it was my fault."

"He did not!" Hagrid said.

Harry nodded. "So my head's all over the place now and I can't really think about much else, which is bad timing really with the exams."

"Remus always 'ad problems with self-confidence, even as a lad, though he got better with his band of mischief makers, but after they died, he only got worse." Hagrid snorted. "It's no excuse, but maybe he just didn't think you'd be interested in his life."

Harry thought about that and rubbed his head. "Maybe, I'll have to talk to him and find out, but with the exams, it'll have to wait until after graduation."

Harry said goodbye when the start of the exams approached, he would already have to reassure Draco and Blaise that he was fine and explain where he had been and why he had left them without saying anything, but he didn't care, he couldn't stop thinking about what Hagrid had said. Even after everything that they had been through, would Remus still think himself so unimportant to him that he wouldn't want to bother him with what he was doing with his life?

He needed to get to the bottom of this, he and Remus needed to sit down and talk this out honestly, otherwise he was going to lose his only remaining link to his parents, his second mentor after Dumbledore, one of his best friends, one of his only confidents, a sort of Uncle to him, a real Uncle unlike Vernon, and it hurt to think about breaking ties with him, he couldn't bear the thought of losing Remus too. Something had to be done and soon.

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