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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78. Chapter Seventy-Six – Freedom

The end of the exams for the majority of the student body was celebrated so vivaciously that even the teachers were laughing. Harry rushed to find Draco and Blaise in the crowd of celebrating seventh years, most of whom had just finished their last exam of the year, History of Magic.

Harry found Blaise first and he threw himself into his lover's arms, hugging him and laughing. Blaise yanked him up fully and Harry wrapped arms and legs around him, holding on tight as Blaise kissed his neck. Blaise had always had a thing for his neck.

"I can't believe it's over." Harry said into Blaise's shoulder. "It's completely over!"

"We're free." Blaise chuckled.

"Thank Merlin for that." Draco's voice came from behind them and Harry turned to latch onto him, hugging him just as tight.

"Let's go back to our rooms and share the love." Harry grinned.

"If you want to share the love then we have to rope someone in to babysit." Blaise said with a grin and an eyebrow wiggle.

Harry laughed as the Hall started dispersing and they followed the crowd. They met Max in the Entrance Hall, he was very easy to spot being head, shoulders and half of his chest taller than everyone else, and Harry hugged him tightly.

"Why are you down here?" Harry asked.

"It's a gorgeous day and being in that room all the time is driving me and Nasta insane, so we packed up a picnic and took the kids out by the tree down by the lake for some fresh air. I left Nas and the kids there to claim our spot, we've been turfing away students for the past hour."

Harry chuckled and they made their way out into the sun and down to the lake where Nasta was watching critically over five squirming babies and little Leolin, who looked incredibly disgruntled to be outside.

"Mama!" Braiden called out and started crawling towards him slowly, coming off the blanket and onto the grass.

Max stopped him from running to him. "Let him get stronger by at least crawling a bit, love. Walk to him and meet him halfway."

There was a group of fourth and fifth year girls and they were cooing and giggling at Braiden as he made small noises as he crawled slow inches across the grass.

Harry hunched down in front of him and let Braiden come to him, let him pull himself up using his leg, holding his hands up, still making his small noises. Harry chuckled and picked him up, kissing him gently and carrying him back to the blanket.

He kissed Nasta passionately, ignoring the screeches from the girls sitting by a crop of rocks opposite them and their shady tree. Some people could be so immature.

"Have they got their sun cream on?" Harry asked.

Nasta just gave him a look and smirked. "Of course they do, I'd hardly forget that."

"Oh yeah, that's right. Sanex forgot your sun cream didn't he and you got your little mole."

Nasta rolled his eyes. "Yes, but really both of us were to blame, I should have remembered too."

"But you were only…how old were you?" Harry asked.

"Eight."

"Oh then there's no excuse, you should have remembered." Harry said.

Nasta grabbed him and pulled him into his lap and tickled him as Harry wriggled and tried to fight him off as he laughed hysterically and uncontrollably.

Nasta stopped tickling him, kissed him and then let him go. They were all smiling. It felt like a huge weight had been pulled off of their backs and it felt good. Really good.

They spent a good few hours down by the lake, letting their children feel the texture of the grass, stopping Farren from eating fistfuls that he had ripped up and even taking them to splash the water down by the lake. They headed back to their rooms carrying a worn out group of babies a few hours later.

"I can't believe that Braiden will be a year old in just two months." Blaise shook his head as he cradled his son lovingly.

"I don't want to think about it." Harry pulled a face.

"We have to plan his party though." Blaise said with a frown. "Who we're going to invite, what to serve…"

"He's going to be a year old." Harry interrupted. "He's not going to be eating canapés and inviting all of his friends around."

Blaise sighed wearily, but he gave up; recognising that Harry wasn't in the mood to talk about it just yet and he really didn't want to ruin the good mood the ending of their exams had put them in.

They had next to nothing to do when they got back to their rooms, Nasta and Max had kept everything tidy, there was nothing school related to do except wait for the graduation ceremony, the babies were all sleeping due to their tiring afternoon outside and the absence of the stress was so sudden it left Harry feeling light headed.

"This…this is boring." He laughed as he turned from his place on the settee to look at his lovers, all spread throughout the room.

"Don't knock a bit of peace and quiet." Nasta cautioned him. "Remember this time yesterday?"

Harry grimaced. "I'd rather not." He answered as he thought back to the revision cramming he had been doing for History of Magic with Regan screaming in his ear.

Blaise had been yelling in French as he tried to break their coffee table by repeatedly hitting it with a book that looked more like a paving slab, and was about as heavy as one too, as Nasta shouted back at him in French, probably trying to calm him down, but Harry didn't know as he didn't speak French.

Draco had been just as angry as he threw a full bottle of ink at Blaise, yelling at him to shut the fuck up already, which had then turned Nasta on him as quick as a flash about his vile language in front of the babies, had Blaise shouting even louder in French as he tugged at the sleeve of his shirt which had black ink spattered all over it and had had Max shouting at him for the ink stain on the carpet.

Harry had wanted to kill all four of them as he had slammed his hands over his ears and shook his head to try and blot out the noise they were making. It had been a very high stressed environment and the change, just from yesterday to today, was incredible.

"I'm so glad it's over, though I think I got the second part of question eighteen wrong." Draco said, frowning slightly as he thought back.

"Please, please for all the love you hold for me, do not mention anything exam related." Harry said seriously. "You can't change it and thinking about it and discussing it only upsets and angers both you and Blaise to the point of shouting and screaming at one another and it gets on my nerves, so don't. You couldn't change it even if you had wanted too."

"Harry's right." Nasta said. "Enjoy the freedom you have now and use it to relax and catch up on some sleep. There's nothing to do now but enjoy the next month until your graduation in July."

"That can't come around quick enough, it really can't." Harry said seriously.

The next morning Max once again left the school to go and talk some sense into his Mother with the full backing of his brother and sisters, who knew and fully supported what he was going to say and do. Their first talk hadn't done much, as it seemed their Mother didn't take their threats to cut ties with her seriously. Today they were going to show her exactly how serious they were.

Max and Nasta had spent the majority of yesterday, while the younger three were in their final exams, meticulously copying Max's official birth certificate, which they had requested from the Ministry archives. The copy was so good that Max had had to make absolutely sure that he had the right one when picking them up.

He was going to take his Mother's name from his 'official' birth certificate and file it at the Ministry again, changing it, claiming himself Motherless. He had had the thought to originally change it to his other Dad Richard, putting him down as his official Mother, but he didn't want to cause fights between his Dads and his Mother or cause any feelings of resentment. This should be enough on its own, to declare yourself legally Motherless was one of the most serious ways of severing ties completely with a family member, it should be enough to be the wakeup call that his Mother needed.

It was a very drastic move, a desperate one, but he wanted his Mother back…no, that wasn't entirely right, she hadn't left, she was still his Mother, still the woman who had carried, birthed and loved him throughout his life, but he wanted her to accept all of him, mates and children and all. He didn't like knowing that she saw his submissive as a baby factory or his children as substitutes for his lost brother Theodric and all the children after that that his Mother had been unable to have.

In fact, it grated on him, he hated it and if he hated it, his Dracken was worse. At the very least he wanted to know why. Why did she see Harry only as a way to get babies? Why did she see his children, her grandchildren, as her own? It wasn't right and until she could answer those questions to a level that he expected, she would not be allowed near his family again.

Caesar had instilled the same rule, not that their Mother had gotten to see much of Eleonora in the first place, but with Harry continuously helping and supporting Amelle, with Caesar behind her one hundred percent, she was allowing more and more contact and she had recently gone up a level to unsupervised contact. She had taken the initiative herself and she had invited Myron and Richard over for the afternoon to babysit Eleonora while she and Caesar had gone for a simple meal for a few hours after a routine check-up scan of their new child. Everything was going fine according to Caesar's last letter.

That she hadn't been invited or involved in this, rather momentous milestone, had hurt Ashleigh terribly, but it was hammering home exactly the point that they wanted to make, the more she resisted, the more she was going to miss.

Apparating from Hogsmeade to his childhood home, Max grinned as he hugged his Dad tightly, letting himself be comforted for a moment by those huge, strong arms before he turned and lifted his other Dad right off his feet in a back breaking hug. His Dad hated that he was only six foot two to Max's six foot eight; it meant that Max could just pick him up like a teddy bear and haul him around, despite being the younger and he'd been able to do it since his early teens.

"Put me down you oaf!" Richard cried out. "Myron, control your beast of a son."

"Maximilius, you know your Dad doesn't like you to pick him up." Myron said deeply, despite the amusement in his black eyes.

"But it's so fun and so easy; you want to put more weight on, Dad." Max teased.

"You're not too big to go over my knee!" Richard threatened.

Max laughed. "I think I am. You wouldn't even be able to manoeuvre me over your knee anymore, let alone take the weight of me on it; actually my weight would probably pop your knees out of joint."

"He might not be able to, but I can." Myron answered, raising a single eyebrow. "One word from him and I won't hesitate to take you over my knee."

Max pouted. "You're no fun, Dad!"

"On the contrary, I think he's very fun." Richard grinned as he went and kissed his husband's cheek.

"Don't I even get a hello, Maxie?"

Max turned to see his Mother sat at the table on the opposite end of the large living room. She was pouring over several photo albums that he recognised as being from his and his siblings childhood.

"Hello, Ashleigh." He answered stiffly.

His Mother reared back like he had struck her hard, her blue eyes going wide and her mouth going soft. Her hand went to her heart and pressed against it and she ducked her head away as her eyes filled with tears.

Max ached to rush her and wrap her in his arms and tell her that he was sorry and that he didn't mean it, but he firmed himself, helped along by his Dracken gnashing its teeth at the thought of comforting the one who was hurting his submissive mate. This had to be done and he was the oldest, he couldn't leave this painful job to his younger siblings. He had to lead them by example.

"Maximilius, no matter your feelings on the matter, she is still your Mother and you will give her the respect that entitles." Myron growled, his huge hands clenched into fists at the sight of his submissive mate hurt and in tears. He tried to stay calm and remind himself that this was his child, but his Dracken didn't care, he saw a dominant male upsetting his submissive and nothing more.

"She's not going to be for much longer, that's why I'm here."

"What do you mean?" His Mother asked from the table, standing up quickly. "I'll always be your Mum, Max. I love you, I always will!"

"It's a shame then that I can't say the same." Max answered coldly as he took his birth certificate out of his inside pocket.

"Is that…?" Richard began.

"It's my official birth certificate; I took it from the Ministry's records yesterday."

"For what purpose?" Myron asked softly, already having an idea of why from what Max had said before and he hoped desperately that he was wrong. Surely things hadn't gotten as bad as that?

Max swallowed and he unfolded it. It wasn't his real birth certificate, but the symbolism was real and to his parents, all three of them, it was all very real as they didn't know that this document was faked.

"To do what I've been threatening to do since all of this started. You didn't believe that I'd cut my ties to you, but for Harry, for my family, I'd do anything, even render myself officially Motherless."

"You can't!" Ashleigh cried out and she flew at him, slipping her arms around his chest and clutching at him, fisting his shirt in her hands.

"I'm sorry that it came to this, but I can't have you hurting Harry or my children. I told you last week that I'd cut ties with you and you all but laughed in my face. You still haven't apologised to Harry, you haven't tried to make amends, so I no longer want you in my life. Harry means the world to me and if you can't even try to get better for my happiness, then I don't see the point in you being in my life. My family is what is important in all of this, Harry and the kids, Nasta, Blaise and Draco too. They are my family now and you're continuing to hurt them and I can no longer stand for it."

"Max, can we talk about this?" Richard said desperately. "Talk it through together, all of us?"

Max shook his head as he took out an ink eraser from his pocket. His Mother actually screamed as he took it out, acting more like it was a knife or a wand than a simple tool to erase even the most permanent of inks.

"I have been talking this through and it's gotten us nowhere, I'm done talking. Talking isn't working and the longer this goes on, the more it affects my family and I can't allow that to continue."

"Have you thought this through, Maximilius?" Myron asked seriously.

"This isn't being done on a whim, Dad. I've been thinking on it for at least a few months now, I've been clinging to the hope that she'll change her mind, that she'll seek help, but she hasn't, so now this is the end. I don't know what else I can do, I've tried my all and it just hasn't worked."

"So you're giving up?"

Max nodded his head simply. "I can't keep putting so much thought and energy into this, my family needs me. I can't keep putting them second best just because she wants to continue acting like a stubborn, spoilt brat. The stress of the exams has made me realise what's really important and though you may not like it, you have to respect me for that. My family come first, they always have and they always will, you taught me that yourselves. This is me putting my family first." Max said seriously as he indicated the small, harmless seeming eraser.

"Please, Max, please don't, please!" His Mother begged and Max's knees threatened to go from under him as his Mother slid to the floor and huddled around his knees, sobbing.

He sat down on the settee and he used his quivering knee to rest his fake birth certificate on and he poised the eraser.

"No, please, please don't, please! I love you, you're my son! I can't lose another son, please!" She beseeched him.

Max firmed himself and he started rubbing on her name and signature, erasing it from his birth certificate, the symbolism of the act, even if the document was a fake, almost crushed his heart as his Mother sat and watched him do it, not once offering to seek help, not once offering to apologise to Harry. That alone told Max how far this had come, it made him realise that he should have addressed this sooner, or even noticed it sooner. He had not once realised before it was pointed out to him that his Mother didn't care for Harry as a person or that she saw his children only as extensions of those that she couldn't have herself.

When her name was completely gone, he felt tired and drained. Empty. He wanted a shoulder to cry on, but he was over four hundred miles from Nasta, Draco, Blaise and Harry and the distance felt crushing as he couldn't break down here, he couldn't undo everything that he had set out to do that morning. He couldn't show any weakness or how much this was truly affecting him.

"How could you?" His Mother, Ashleigh, said quietly. "How could you have sat there and undid thirty-two years of love and care so easily? As if nothing mattered."

"You don't matter to me anymore." He lied. "You stopped mattering to me as soon as you made Harry feel like nothing more than a machine to pop out more babies for you to fawn over. I stopped caring when you refused to get help, when you refused to even apologise to him…"

"I did apologise! I sent him an owl…"

"Don't lie to me!" Max roared, standing up angrily. "I LIVE with him! Every single morning I hoped to see an owl from you, but you never once sent one! Every single morning I waited anxiously, collected the mail every single morning hoping that I could hand Harry a letter of apology from you, so I wouldn't have to make sad excuses for its absence, so I wouldn't feel the overwhelming shame of having you for a Mother! But that's over now. I don't need to worry any more as I am officially Motherless. I don't have to care or worry about you any longer, I no longer have to make up lies to excuse your behaviour and I no longer have to feel ashamed of you, because you're no longer anything to do with me or my family."

"Is that truly how you felt?" Richard asked, feeling like someone had just punched a hole through his chest.

Max nodded jerkily. "Expect Caesar later, as soon as the time zones catch up, he's planning on doing the same."

"I…I'm going to lose all of my sons?" Ashleigh asked breathlessly.

"Open your eyes!" Max shouted at her. "You're going to lose us all!"

"All of you are planning to do this?" Myron asked, shocked.

Max nodded again. "We've all been in constant contact for months, but after last week, that's when it all went downhill and I shared my plans with them to take her off of my birth certificate. Caesar understood immediately and he has agreed to do the same. The girls took a bit more persuading, but they came around in the end. The girls want to wait and see what you do and how you react to this first, if you do nothing yet again by the end of this week, all of us will be Motherless. You'll lose us all and to me, that's just fine."

His Mother slumped bonelessly onto the floor and hunched herself over. Her shoulders shook with her unsuppressed sobs and Max ached to go to her, to tell her than it wasn't real, that they weren't using their official birth certificates, but he took in a deep breath of air and reminded himself that this was all for her own good. She needed to realise that they were serious about this.

"You brought this on yourself." He told her sternly. "There's no use crying about it now that I've done it, now that I've made good on my promise. I told you last week that I was going to do it, it was your own fault that you didn't believe me and didn't heed our warnings, now you risk losing every child that you have ever had through your own selfishness and stubbornness!"

"Please, Max." She crawled to him and held him around his knees. "Please, we can forget about this, just let me put my name back on your certificate, please."

"Why? What purpose would it have? I'm not going to have you in my life whether your name is on it or not, but this way, at least I can tell people that I have no Mother, this way at least I can stop being so ashamed of you!"

He tucked the certificate back in his pocket and turned to his Dads', both of whom looked very unsettled and deeply shocked.

"I hadn't wanted to do this in front of you." He lied smoothly. "I wanted to take her aside and do it privately, but what's done is done. I want you to know that the love I have for you both has not been affected by today or by what she has done, you are still my Dads' and you always will be, though I have to say that I've lost some respect for you both from this whole ordeal, but I will be seeing you again and my children will always call you both Granddad. Know too that you are always welcome at our home whenever you want to visit, Harry's breeding cycle is half way through and I'd like for you both to be there for support when he nests, if he catches on this heat of course, but I want you to be there to greet the new additions to the family when they come."

Max was silent, everyone was silent except for Ashleigh, who was nearly choking on her sobbed gasps on the floor, until Myron stepped forward and kissed his forehead, letting his lips linger on his son's skin, feeling the short hair under the palm of his hand as he pulled Max's head to his mouth before he pulled back slightly so that his breath whispered across Max's forehead.

"I'm not happy about this, but you've done what you think is best and I respect the hell out of you for it. I can see how painful this was for you to do, even if you did try and hide it. I want you to know that I will sort this out, I'll sort out my submissive and I hope that once that has been done, you'll be open to changing the status of your birth certificate once again."

Max nodded. "That's all I want, Dad. I hate that it has come to this, but that's what it comes down to, it has come down to this and until such a time where things change, this is my final decision."

Myron nodded and broke apart from Max and clapped a huge hand on Max's equally huge shoulder.

"I'll do everything in my power to change this, I will not have my family broken apart by this, I will not risk losing all of my children over this, no…I won't risk losing a single child over this. I love you all deeply and dearly, one way or another, I will sort this."

Max smiled and rested against his Father for a moment, before he stood back. "I'll see you later; I've got to get the certificate back to the Ministry today, but now that the exams are over, we have nothing to do but lounge around, so if you have a spare few hours, don't hesitate to come visit us, you should see how much Farren has grown! He's so much like me it's amazing! Braiden's almost ready to take his first steps, we think it'll be any day now and Tegan is so hilarious, you have to come and spend an afternoon with them, they've changed so much and they miss their favourite Granddads, Aneirin and Lucius are sticklers, they need a couple of fun Granddads."

Richard smiled wanly at that, but he was too upset to do much else, his throat was tightening to the point of pain and he was having difficulty breathing, how had it come to this? How had it become this bad? They had partially lost their baby Maximilius, how long would it take for him to completely sever ties with all of them because of Ashleigh? It had to end; he would not lose any of his precious babies for anyone, not even his own mates.

Max took his leave after Richard gave him an automatic hug, his mind a million miles away, he would sort this out, he shared a look with Myron and he saw the look in those black eyes that he loved. They'd sort it out together, they couldn't lose their children.

Max chose to use the floo this time, he didn't want to walk from Hogsmeade back to his rooms in the state that he was in, he walled himself up tight until he was in private, he held himself strong and tight. He went through the floo because he wanted to get back as soon as possible; he went through the floo because he needed to break down in the comforting arms of his beloved mates as soon as possible.

Harry laughed as he rolled around with Farren. Draco had gone to catch up with a few of his friends that had been neglected during the year thanks to the kids and the exams, though Draco snorted when Harry had worded it in such a way and told him that it was hardly neglect and that he had chosen to ignore them in favour of doing more important things. The blond had then called him an emotional Gryffindor and left, leaving Harry to watch him go, before laughing and going back to rocking with Leolin.

Blaise had gone for a lie down, the exams had taken a lot out of him and the stress he had been feeling took a little longer to disperse than Harry's immediate relief. Nasta explained that it was because Blaise's stress had gone deep down inside of him that it had rooted into his everyday emotions and he needed a little longer to recover from their effects.

Max had gone to see his parents once again, they all knew what he planned to do and Harry wasn't exactly happy with it, but he accepted and supported Max in whatever decision he made concerning his Mother.

Nasta was finishing the last bout of paperwork he had received over a month ago now, leaving Harry to do what he had sorely missed doing during the two weeks of exams. Playing with his children.

Braiden was now crawling strongly, if not exactly straight as he tended to veer off to his right no matter what direction he was going in, Regan had gotten smoother at his wriggling and had learnt to use his legs more, Calix was pulling himself across the floor using only his arms, in short, slow jerks of movement, his legs folded together under him, which looked rather comical at times, Farren was still content to watch everything and not move all that much and Tegan was still demanding to have everything she wanted brought to her by pointing at it and screaming.

They had all changed and developed so much from the tiny, wrinkled newborns that had been less than a year ago, even Leolin, and he was so proud of them and now that school was over and done with he was about ready for another clutch, though he did hope he didn't get pregnant again right after he gave birth like he had done with the quintuplets, he'd have to make sure no lecherous mates were near him on a hot day as he dismantled his nest. He grinned to himself and cackled as he rolled Farren over yet again, his second oldest child screeching with giggles.

It was nice to see that Farren wasn't letting his erupting teeth bother him. He had grown in four together and now another two were popping in as Braiden cut yet another tooth too. Harry was almost glad that Leolin wouldn't be teething for another few years and that Regan seemed wholly content with milk and the occasional bowl of fruit puree and his teeth had yet to show signs of coming in.

Harry sighed and sat Farren back in the cardboard box filled with soft toys. Every one of his children were in their own cardboard box filled with toys and they were having the time of their lives, safely and unable to crawl off and into danger, it was one of his better ideas, though naturally Leolin was on his beanbag and not in a box as he couldn't sit up on his own yet.

"What are you thinking?" Nasta asked from the kitchen table.

"That this was one of my better ideas." He grinned, indicating the boxes, before his smile slipped around the edges a bit. "I am worried for Max though. He's doing an incredibly painful thing, even if it's not actually real, it's going to feel real to all of them."

Nasta nodded. "I'm thinking the same thing. We need to be on hand to support him when he comes back, which is why I won't go into work today, even though it was offered."

"He's going to be a wreck when he comes back isn't he?" Harry said softly.

Nasta nodded. "Yes, he is, but it was his choice and his decision and we can hope that this is the wakeup call that Ashleigh needs to spur her into action."

"You never know, miracles can happen." Harry snorted. Nasta chuckled with him.

"We can hope, for Max's sake if nothing else, that this is exactly what she needs to seek help or failing that, that it's the wakeup call that Myron needs to order her to seek help, but as he pointed out, he can order her to do it, but that won't make things any better, she has to want to get better in order to actually get better, so let's just hope that her children rendering themselves Motherless will get her to pull her stubborn head from her arse."

Harry laughed and nodded. "Yes, I want her to get better too, purely for Max's sake. I loved her once, but after everything, it's going to take a lot to get our relationship back to what it once was, if it ever will get back to that point, that is."

"Harry!" Blaise's voice hissed from the bedroom doorway and Harry almost snapped his neck to look over to him, only stop as he realised why he had been hissed at so urgently.

Braiden was using the settee that his box of toys was resting against to pull himself up to his feet. He was standing up for the first time and he seemed so incredibly pleased with himself as he showed no signs of moving or sitting back down from where he was stood, leaning heavily on the seat of the settee, looking at the room from his new perspective and new vantage point.

Nasta, concerned with the stunned silence from his two younger mates, came around the settee from the kitchenette to see what they were looking at and he grinned proudly.

"I was wondering how long it would be before he at least tried standing." Nasta said proudly as he picked up the new camcorder and started recording Braiden standing. He had spent the week it had come reading all the instructions and manuals, Harry was more content to push each button to see what it did, no instructions needed. Nasta just shook his head at him and told him that he'd break it if he wasn't careful.

"I can't believe it." Harry said, feeling himself get weepy, he shoved the urge aside viciously.

"Ten months old and standing, I've never felt more pride than this before." Blaise said as he stood and watched.

"I can't believe I could have missed it." Harry said upset.

"It's okay." Nasta soothed. "We didn't miss it and we're watching him right now. He's a bit bowlegged though, isn't he?"

"Are babies supposed to be bowlegged?" Harry fretted. "Maybe we should take him to a paediatrician just in case."

"Why don't we ask someone first, before rushing him off to the hospital." Blaise said calmly.

Nasta nodded. "Blaise is right, a Healer might not be needed, we should ask someone first, then if it's needed we'll get him checked out."

"I'll check in those baby development books we were given, there might be something about it in them." Harry said.

When Braiden pushed off from the settee and sat down on his nappy covered bottom with a flump, clapping little hands together at his actions, Harry went and cuddled him, telling him how proud he was of him, Blaise at his shoulder, the both of them forgetting all about Nasta filming them as they kissed one another passionately, sharing a look of pride and love before turning back to Braiden and praising him some more, peppering his face with kisses as he giggled and babbled. Their little boy was standing and very soon he would be walking, their children were all growing at an alarming rate and as Braiden's first year birthday approached, a stone of dread sunk into Harry's stomach. He didn't want his children growing up quite as fast as they were, he wanted them to slow down, he didn't want them to not need him so soon.

Narcissa Malfoy sighed and shooed the house elf away. Severus had yet again declined to eat breakfast and she was very worried about him.

She smiled softly at the photo of all her grandchildren lined up on a settee and dressed up smartly. Draco had sent her a whole envelope full of photos, but the one with all of the children on the settee together, some of the little boys in waistcoats and bowties, the others in smart dress robes and her lone granddaughter Tegan in an absolutely wonderful white silk dress with pink accents, little tights, a beautiful little headband and lace had to be her favourite and she had framed it and put in right in the centre of the mantel piece in her favourite sitting room where she and her friends took tea on most afternoons.

Draco sent her letters almost twice weekly now updating her and Lucius on the development of the six children and she, as a Mother herself, could tell just from these letters that he loved them very much, despite none of them truly being his own, which Lucius pointed out at least once a week when she gushed over them. She made sure to reprimand him of such sayings and reminded him that Draco wouldn't take kindly to him saying such things and her Husband would stop for all of a week before he said it again.

She could understand the need for a blood Heir to the Malfoy name, Lucius had been an only child and so had Draco, they were the last of the Malfoy name and it had to carry on through Draco or die out, a thought which made Lucius almost physically ill, but she reminded him that six children were more than enough to be getting on with for now and that Draco was sure to get a blood child at some point as Drackens never stopped breeding. They bred until they physically couldn't any longer and in that time they could have a very large number of children to look after, which was going to be stressful enough and she made sure to remind Lucius that their Draco was young yet and she urged her Husband to give Draco until he was twenty-five, like their original contract with Astoria Greengrass had laid out. They had not expected to be young grandparents, indeed they had never expected their Draco to be a young Father, but he had been only sixteen when Harry had birthed Braiden and seventeen when he had birthed the other five. He was coming up to his eighteenth birthday now and young Harry had had an almost six month break from pregnancy now, that was very short after a multiple birth for a Dracken. From the books that Draco had given her, written by actual Drackens, Harry could go for as long as several years before his body repaired itself enough for another period of heat, but somehow, she didn't know how, but she just had a gut feeling that Harry wouldn't wait as long as 'normal' Drackens would to get pregnant once again. She hoped that the next pregnancy contained at least one of Draco's blood children, but failing that she wanted another little girl, Tegan looked lonely in the photographs, the lone dress in a group of little suits and bowties.

She was oddly pleased about the idea of Harry getting pregnant again sooner than expected, not just for blood grandchildren, she honestly didn't mind that Draco was calling her a grandmother to all six children, unlike Lucius, who didn't refer to himself as a grandfather and probably wouldn't until he was a 'real' grandfather. She was rather annoyed with her Husband for it, but there was only so much chastisement she could give out in a day without feeling like a Mother to her own Husband.

Picking up the photo in its polished silver frame, she took it to Severus' room, up on the family wing so they could be close by, just in case. She wasn't worried that Severus would outright take his own life, but she was worried that he would inadvertently take his own life, especially if he kept refusing food; this was the second day that he had gone without eating a thing. Lucius could usually goad him into eating something, but the past two days had been bad ones and they didn't know how to break him from his daydreaming.

She knocked on his door purely to announce her presence, as Severus never gave or declined permission for them to enter. She opened the door and came in jovially, smiling, though he took no notice of her. At least he was out of bed today; sat in the chair he had put facing out of the window, though he was still in his pyjamas, not even a dressing gown or slippers adorning him.

"Good morning, Severus, how are you feeling today? I brought a photo for you to see. It's of Draco's children."

The look that Severus gave her could have wilted flowers, but it was the same look he always gave her when she came and disturbed him from his thoughts. Narcissa didn't let it bother her anymore.

"Here, have a look. They're coming on so well now." Narcissa said happily, pride lacing her voice.

"How is Potter?" Severus asked, his voice quiet and strained with disuse.

Narcissa smiled happily, this was definitely an improvement and she was delighted that he was interacting with her for a change instead of ignoring her and carrying on his daydreaming.

"Oh he's fine. The boys have just finished their exams. Draco informed me that Blaise has been insufferable lately, but I believe he just wants to do his best. I coached Draco to be patient and to leave him be, Marianna instilled a heavy, studious ethic into Blaise, he has always wanted to do well and I loved that it rubbed off on Draco when they had their little play dates as children, so I am unsurprised to hear of how seriously he is taking the final exams."

"I asked about Potter." Severus snapped.

Narcissa sighed and resettled herself. She was better with the idea of having Harry Potter, a Halfblood, in her family line, especially after the birth of grandchildren, Draco's obvious love for the boy and a year and a half to get used to the idea, but something deep inside of her still rubbed at the thought. She believed it was her Mother's teachings from when she was a small child, she had made sure to instil those beliefs in Draco too, Lucius more so than herself, but it seems that either their only son hadn't listened overly much to their teachings on blood supremacy, or the Dracken inheritance had overruled every lesson on blood heritage that they had ever given him.

"He's fine, Severus, I haven't seen him, but Draco informs me that he's handling the pressure very well and that he cares more for his children than his studies. I suppose it's nothing that we can't expect from a Halfblood raised by vile Muggles, but at least Draco and Blaise are doing well and from what Draco has told me that the older two are very highly paid. The one is a senior Dragon Handler, though it is highly paid, it's more commoner work, but Draco has said that the oldest one enjoys it, but the one, Maddison, he's a Potions Master, Severus, I'm sure the both of you would enjoy one another's company." Narcissa said with a smile.

Severus had a strange smile on his face, like he was caught in memory.

"All submissive Drackens are more focused on their children." Severus informed her. "It's how it should be. The dominant mates provide, which is why Blaise has always strived to do well to get the best job that he can, and the submissives keep track of the children, it's nothing to do with his upbringing or his blood status, or do you forget that you are talking to a Halfblood?"

Narcissa blinked. It was easy to forget that Severus was a Halfblood. He and Lucius had been friends for so long that she often forgot that he wasn't a Pureblood, but it never really mattered, she could make an exception for Severus.

"If you can make an exception for me, when I am nothing to you, then you can find it in yourself to make an exception for Harry; at least his Mother was a witch, unlike my Muggle Father." He said stonily, giving the impression that he had read her thoughts. "Draco is deeply in love and to hate Harry is to hate a part of Draco, to hate Harry is to hate the man that Draco loves with all of himself. You risk alienating your only son if you carry on, his Dracken instincts will always have him choosing his mate over you and Lucius. You are nothing to his Dracken, just people his human side knows and if you push him, you'll lose him. You can't win out against his mates and children."

"Draco said that Maximilius is estranging himself from his own Mother."

"Why?" Severus asked interestedly.

"Something about her only seeing Harry as a means to get children about her and as of last week, she refused to apologise still, so Maximilius was planning to take her from his birth certificate."

"Hardly surprising." Severus grunted. "Drackens have turned on their own Mothers for less, though it is usually the Fathers that cause the trouble and having dominant sons near dominant Fathers is always going to be a stressful time, though naturally it depends on the personality of both involved."

Narcissa was shocked and unsettled. To think that her own darling son would turn on her if she didn't show Potter love and affection was unnerving.

"I would watch what you say to Draco and tell Lucius the same. If you complain or whine to Draco about Potter, you're as good as shutting the proverbial door between you. He will never choose you over his mate and children, to think differently is to become ignorant. Drackens are not merely humans with wings, Narcissa."

Narcissa bristled at being called ignorant and her spine automatically straightened as she watched Severus critically. He was slumped in the chair, tired and worn out, rail thin and sickly looking. Somehow she knew that he would never get over this and she settled herself down again. The thought of losing a dear friend hurt, to watch said dear friend wither away before her eyes was insurmountably more painful.

The loss of Regulus had torn Severus apart, but the not knowing had kept him alive. Bitter, lonely and full of anger and resentment, but alive. Finding Regulus' body had been a blessing and a curse. Severus now knew exactly what had happened to his submissive and why, he could put to rest the 'was my mate pregnant' fears and could put his mind at ease with all the painful scenarios that had filled it, but without the determination that Regulus' sudden and mysterious death had brought, Severus didn't want to carry on his life any longer.

He had done everything that he had sworn he would do. He had sworn to find out what had happened to Regulus and he had and he had sworn to a dead Lily Potter that he would look out for Potter in her absence and he had. Potter was a grown man now, a Dracken to boot and he had four very powerful young men as his bonded mates, including her own son. He was a part of a very large, very protective and very powerful and influential family. He was well protected and well looked after, there was nothing that Severus had to live for now and Narcissa understood that on a logical, unfeeling level, but the friend in her who had known Severus for years, had cared for him for years, would not be so easily silenced, she would fight for his life, even if he wouldn't fight for it himself. The friend in her could do no less.

Max had only been gone for merely an hour when he flooed back into their rooms, landing on his feet but falling immediately to his knees and his face just crumbled. One moment, strong and slightly arrogant, the next he was the picture of abject misery as he covered his face with both large hands and sobbed.

Harry knew right then that the meeting had not gone well and he'd had to carry out his threat of making himself 'Motherless' even if it was a fake document.

Blaise was closest to him and he reached him first and Max threw his huge arms around him and crushed him into a hug, those massive, powerful shoulders shaking with the force of his sobs and Harry's heart broke for him. His Dracken snarled inside of him, they should go and get revenge for their mate; they should kill the one who had hurt their mate so badly.

Harry suppressed this instinct, but when Max's sobs became audible; loud, wracking sobs that he couldn't hold back or control, Harry's patience and control was sorely tested.

Max let out a sound that made Harry's spine straighten, his wings vibrating against the bone and it took him a few minutes before he realised that Max was letting out a distress call. It was the first time that he'd ever heard it and he felt the reactions it caused in his body and mind. Nothing else mattered but getting to Max and taking that noise away from him. Nothing.

Blaise held him tighter, even though it was Max enveloping him and clinging on for dear life. Nasta's Dracken side was forced out of him, despite his steel control, as soon as he felt the vibrations of the distress call. It was an automatic reaction and he went to Max and held him as he cried and yelled out his distress call.

It took ten minutes before Draco came through the door, panting, panicked and pink cheeked and he came to their little huddle and joined them.

"What happened?" He asked.

"He had to go through with his plan." Harry said softly from where he was buried under Max's arm, letting his biggest mate crush him. Nothing mattered but making Max better.

Draco threw his arms over Harry's head and around Max's shoulder and around Blaise' back on the other side. Nasta was behind Max holding him from behind, but he had blocked off their floo network before he had, just in case anyone decided to join them, after all Max's parents could feel his distress call and it would probably be driving them crazy.

It took endless minutes for Max to calm down, almost half an hour before he stopped sobbing so uncontrollably that he couldn't hear their whispered words and almost half an hour before he stopped keening like a frightened child or a wounded animal. Half an hour in which he tore at all of their hearts as he completely broke down in their arms before calming and quieting down and kneeling empty in their arms, unable to cry anymore.

They spent the next hour piecing him back together and building him back up with kind words and actions, endless comfort and unconditional love. Harry took over the kitchen, which he was quite happy about, though the circumstances were upsetting. Blaise stayed cuddled up with Max and showed him the recording of Braiden standing, which helped a lot as the feelings of pride were immense at seeing their little son standing on his bow legs for the first time and the little extra bit on the end where Nasta had filmed Blaise and Harry kissing and cuddling over Braiden did more to make Max's mood improve.

Draco did the one thing that made him feel better when he was upset and took a brush to the slight curls that Max had on his head. It had been a while since his last haircut and his hair was getting longer and as it got longer, the curls started to grow in. It was cute.

Nasta handed Braiden to Max and their oldest child gurgled and giggled as Max bounced him on his lap, encouraging him onto his legs by standing him up, even as Draco carried on brushing his hair and Blaise cuddled against his side.

Harry handed out tea, sneaking Blaise a cup of coffee, just because he knew it would make Max smile, it did, he actually chuckled as he let Braiden grip hold of and squeeze his bottom lip, tugging on it in curiosity.

"Don't let him do that, he'll hurt you." Harry scolded as he carefully took Braiden's clenching fingers from Max's lip, being careful of his nails. "They're a little long; I think he needs to have them cut again."

"I've got it." Max said deeply in his emotion roughed voice as he sat Braiden down before he brought a tiny hand up to his mouth and started nibbling on the tiny nails.

Braiden giggled hysterically. "Da! Da!" He cried out, his little body wriggling and writhing as he giggled as each nail was bitten and picked at until they were short and smooth again.

"Oh I love this little boy." Max said as he finished and pulled Braiden into a hug.

"Dapda." Farren cooed from the floor.

They all stopped and looked at Farren as he frowned up at Max, a stuffed teddy still in his arms.

"I think he heard you and has a touch of jealousy." Draco chuckled as he walked around the settee and hefted Farren out of his box and sat him between Max and Blaise, before going back around to play with Max's curls.

Farren gurgled as he bashed his teddy about, leaning himself onto Max's side.

"I think the babies know that you're upset." Harry said as he came and kissed Max's cheek.

"Mama!" Braiden called out, reaching for him over Max's head.

"Ah, but they still love you the most." Max grinned, tilting his head back and getting his prominent Adam's apple poked curiously for his trouble.

"Naturally." Harry grinned as he picked Braiden up and set him on his hip. "I'm always going to be the best and their favourite."

That made all of his lovers laugh, which half of his children joined in on, which made them all laugh more.

"I think it's about lunch time, do you want to try blended potatoes, carrots and pork today, Braiden?" Harry asked as he sat him in his high chair and dug in the cupboard of little labelled jars that Max had made up.

Braiden bashed the tray of his high chair and gurgled happily, calling out for Harry as he bashed louder.

"It's no wonder we've been suffering systematic headaches for this last week." Blaise said as he grimaced at the noise.

"Aw, Braiden, your Daddy doesn't like your music."

"That's not music." Draco complained, insulted at the very notion that the racket they were hearing was music.

"Of course it is." Harry said. "It's Braiden's very own music, made by his own hands. You should be proud."

Draco snorted. "Fine, you stay here and listen to his music and be proud over it, I'm going to check on Leolin."

Harry rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to Braiden, sitting down in front of him and loading up a tiny spoon with the contents of the jar and started the process of giving Braiden lunch, avoiding the hands that had so recently decided they wanted to grab the spoon and throw it every time it came towards him, regardless of the blended food the spoon was full of.

Severus let himself gone boneless when the door closed behind Narcissa at last. He still held the photograph of the six children that Potter had had and he couldn't stop himself from imagining them as his own and Regulus' children. The thought made something deep inside him ache.

He knew this was his ending, he had nothing left tying him to this world except a grown godson in Blaise and a self-taken on ward in Potter, who was also grown. Neither of them needed him anymore and with the questions answered about Regulus, he could go in peace.

He had no beautiful children like the six that Potter had, no child that needed him or depended on him, no child to carry on his genes, no mate to help raise said child, no one to grow old with. He was only thirty-eight years old, he had another three hundred or so more years to live yet and the thought drained him.

His stubborn will to find out what had happened to his beloved Regulus had been the only thing keeping him going, through every day; every painfully boring lesson where he wished desperately that he was somewhere else.

His dreams at night had him aching to abuse his own profession and consume over dosages on the Dreamless Sleep potion, just so he wouldn't see Regulus' happy, upturned face at night, a toddler in his arms who looked just like his beloved mate. His envision of the daughter that they should never have lost. Their daughter who should be twenty years old but instead had not a physical speck in this world for anyone to remember her by.

Severus had laid Regulus to rest a week after he had been found, outside of the incredibly strong preservation spells that the lake in the underground cave had had, Regulus had started decomposing rapidly and he couldn't bear the thought to see the perfectly preserved body of his beloved mate turn to so much mush and rotted flesh in his arms.

Lucius and Narcissa had been a huge help to him, Albus visited at least twice a week as well as the letters he received from Draco and Blaise, and even the two letters he had gotten from Potter. They were all trying to help him, but he had no reason for living besides to merely be living.

What did he have to live for now? No mate, no children. The entire focus of a Dracken was to breed and procreate; he had failed at that when he had failed his submissive mate on so many occasions.

Severus looked at each grinning or sharply focused face of the six beautiful children that Potter had given to his dominants, though Lucius was always quick to correct his Wife by saying that none of them were Draco's, he knew exactly what Draco would think of each and every child, he knew that his Dracken would see all of them as an extension of his submissive mate, which naturally made the children 'his' as well.

From Narcissa he knew they were all doing well and even though Potter had a court case coming up for the Muggles who had hurt him in his childhood, he was very well supported and he was being watched for signs of depression or signs that he wasn't coping with the situation, so far neither had been forthcoming.

Severus forced himself to stand, even though he was hunched over and almost crippled by grief, he managed to shuffle himself back to his bed and he lay down with a sigh of relief.

There was nothing in the world that he wouldn't give to have Regulus back, but full resurrection was impossible and the cheap imitations would only be an insult to Regulus' memory. There was no way around it, Regulus was gone and he was never coming back. Putting it so bluntly in his mind had a stab of agony tearing through him so shockingly that he curled over his own chest as much as possible and tiredly rubbed over his breastbone.

His Dracken was rebelling. They both hated the thought of their mate being dead and gone with no children to carry on their genes, but though he wished that his only daughter had never died, he wished more that Regulus was here with him and that thought ate away at him, deteriorating his condition further, plaguing his mind with guilt and self-loathing.

He rested on the bed, the photograph still in his hand and he looked at the five little boys and the lone little girl. That little girl could have been his own and his heart clenched agonisingly yet again. He should have protected Regulus better, he should have kept him closer to him, then maybe their little girl would still be here and maybe, just maybe, Regulus would still be here too.

He felt so much guilt, so much pain, why hadn't he followed Regulus that day? Why had he let his mate leave the house, go through the front door and out into the world on his own, just because of some petty argument that he couldn't even remember. He should have done more, been more for his submissive and he should have gone after Regulus instead of sitting at home and sulking about the argument they had had that in hindsight didn't matter at all to him.

He felt sick and lost. His thoughts run a continuous loop around his failure as a dominant mate, how he had lost his mate and daughter, how he had let it happen and he eventually curled up further, his loss and bereavement laying heavily on his mind as he stared at the picture of the six beautiful children. They could have been his; he could have had a picture just like this on his office desk, or on his sitting room wall.

He felt his eyes burning with supressed tears and he slammed his emotions back into check. He had cried all he was going to over this and he wouldn't allow any more to be shed, he would not drown Regulus' memory in tears. He had cried more than enough.

It took endless hours for his mind to flit from thought to thought, to memory and back before the nightmares started. He hadn't realised that he had fallen asleep until he was throwing himself into wakefulness with a gasp caught in his throat.

He sat up as quickly as he could in his deteriorated state and relearnt how to breathe. This had become familiar to him, these dreams and nightmares that beleaguered his sleep and wouldn't leave him be. It had been weeks since he last had the energy to brew potions and Lucius would immediately recognise and confiscate the Dreamless Sleep potion like he was a child that needed to be told what he could and couldn't do or put into his own body.

Severus lifted the photograph in its frame of silver and watched one of the little boys kick his legs happily as another brought a hand to his mouth to gum on three fingers. He had dreamed that the six of them had died. A heinous thing for him to dream of another's children, but it was only a dream, one that he couldn't shake.

His heart had long since calmed when he laid himself back down in his guest bed at Malfoy Manor. He felt weak and shaky and he realised that it had been some time since he had last ate. He didn't particularly mind, if he was absorbed with a brewing project he often went without eating for a few days too.

His body was weak and almost useless now, he could barely sit up through sheer willpower alone and he didn't think he could get himself from his bed, so he closed his eyes and thought of Regulus. How much he longed to join his mate, how much he wanted to see him again, to see his smile and hear his laugh, to hold him in his arms once again, feeling his body shake with the throes of passion as his mate drew blood from him, trying to keep from screaming. Regulus hated screaming and Severus was always extra arrogant after he had made Regulus scream for him.

His breathing becoming increasingly ragged and stilted, Severus, on some level, knew what was happening, but he refused to call out for a house-elf. He just continued lying on the bed, thinking of the mate and child that he had lost, one thanks to the Dark Lord and the other thanks to Potter senior.

He let what was going to happen, happen. He wouldn't outright take his own life, but if it happened on its own, he wasn't going to stop it. He had had enough of this life and he wished to go to the next to be reunited with Regulus, even if there was no next great adventure after death, at least he would be in the same state as Regulus and they would be buried side by side.

Still holding the picture frame, Severus took several more stilted breaths before his breathing regulated and evened out as he slipped back into sleep, his overtaxed mind and body too exhausted and stressed to stay active for any longer, the nightmares didn't come back, he didn't dream and Severus did not wake up ever again.

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