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Lucius calmly aimed the wand at Harry and Nyah as a curse rang out.

“Avada Kedavra!”

The sound of rushing air engulfed the room, as green sparks flew from the tip of the wand and connected with its target.

Draco stood looking down at the shell of his father, his wand arm falling limp to his side. With a small nod to Harry, Draco slowly turned and limped towards the library door as the faint hue of morning crept to the windows.

Chapter 22 – Stepping From The Shadows 

“Daddy,” Nyah breathed softly, reaching for Harry, “it hurts – so bad.” Small tears escaped her eyes and slowly traveled down her dusty cheeks. Nyah’s small body shook uncontrollably as she lay on the cold, stone floor of the Malfoy library. The splintered magic within her mounted its attack once more, sending fragments of pain tearing through her flesh.

Harry wiped his eyes quickly on the back of his hand and knelt down next to his daughter, afraid to speak, certain his heart would break with any word from his mouth. He silently cursed his fingers for trembling as he gently brushed the hair from Nyah’s face, surprised at how cold her skin had become. Her lips were pale and dark circles had formed around her closed eyes.

“There’s not much time,” he whispered as Ginny arrived at his side, hot tears freely falling down his cheeks. “I don’t know --,” he said, hesitating between the tears, “I don’t know -- how to save her.”

Ginny’s once teary eyes became a bit fierce as she looked at Harry, her hand reaching to his face and whispered back, “Lucius took her once, are we going to let him take her again?”

Harry glanced around the room, searching the air itself for courage. His eyes finally landed on Lucius’s broken and lifeless body lying alone in the rubble. With a nod, he carefully slid his hands beneath Nyah’s head and knees and stood. She screamed in pain as he lifted her gently into his arms and pulled her close. Harry whispered softly into her hair as she cried, “It’s okay, Mum and I are here. Be strong… be strong.”

Ginny leaned in and kissed her daughter once more as Nyah’s breathing became shallow. Whispering a quick ‘I love you’, Ginny and Harry walked towards the door, stepping over the bodies that littered the former library, conscious of little else other than their dying daughter. The early morning air hung wearily in the halls of the Manor, its suffocating presence threatening to overtake each group as they traversed the corridors.

Ron was leaning heavily on Hermione’s shoulder, unable to stand on his own. She had fashioned a splint about his arm to hold it steady as they walked. They stopped often, pausing to let Ron catch his breath.

Charlie had wasted no time in picking up George and making his way outside to Apparate to St. Mungo’s.

The Ministry Aurors, led by Harry’s Senior Supervisor, Carl Stanwick, along with a team of Hit Wizards, had finally begun to make their way into Malfoy Manor, too late to be of any service other than rounding up the assorted Death Eaters and any werewolves that had yet to make it to the dense woods adjacent to the property. As they met in the hallway, Carl nodded to Harry while instructing everyone to make their way to St. Mungo’s; he would be along momentarily to gather statements.

Through the unsettled dust, another couple emerged – the Malfoys. Draco too, was leaning for support against his wife as they walked towards the morning light and the illumination it offered. Draco stopped short of the entry as he watched his father’s body being unceremoniously carried away, with no distinction between Lucius and the mere servants who died along side of him. A wand lay in the dust near the spot where Lucius fell, discarded and unnoticed by those in the room.

Glancing towards the other families as they talked to the Ministry officials, Draco pulled his wand and muttered, “Accio wand!” The pale wood eagerly left its place amidst the rubble and met Draco’s hand.

Astoria looked questioningly at her husband, but said nothing as she watched him deposit the extra wand inside his cloak. Their eyes met as he put his arm around her shoulders, silently admitting his need for her help. Unspoken words passed between them and they continued their way towards the doors of the Manor. Lingering a short distance from the front entrance, Draco watched as the Potter and Weasley families were being Apparated away, just outside the Manor walls.

                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The windows at St. Mungo’s mimicked the rising sun, its cheerfulness unable to penetrate the hearts of the families waiting in the quiet rooms. Healers traveled quickly from room to room, tracking the progress of each patient.

“Ron?” Hermione whispered once more to her sleeping husband, his snores drowning out the hustle-and-bustle of the hospital. Ron’s arm was wrapped tightly to protect the newly-healed bone, while his cuts and bruises continued to mend with the Healer’s treatments. He had gladly accepted the calming draught and sleeping potion, and was now in a deep sleep.

“Ron, I need you.” Exhaustion had set in full-force, and Hermione laid her forehead onto the clean, white sheets of Ron’s hospital bed. Her body continued to throb with dull pain, even after the healing spells and the Pepper Up potion administered to her by the Healers. Deep breaths, Hermione, she instructed herself, and crying won’t help either. 

“It doesn’t look good,” she sighed, losing the fight to avoid the tears, “Nyah is so weak. Her face… it’s so pale and cold… just like last time.” Tears began to soak into the bed sheets and Hermione allowed the fear and sorrow to wash over her, “I didn’t get to her in time, Ron, and now -- and now she’s dying. With Lucius gone, there’s nothing they can do for her -- except -- destroy her magic and hope her body can heal.” A deep breath took over and Hermione sighed, “Ronald, please wake up...”

The hospital room door opened slowly and the sounds of family and friends gathered in the hallways rushed in, unaware of the disruption they caused. Hermione sat up a bit too quickly and her head screamed in protest, willing her to rest again. She closed her eyes and held a hand to her bandage as though the pain originated in that one spot. A heavy hand landed gently on her shoulder as a familiar voice quietly called her name.

Finally able to open her eyes and focus, Hermione stood slowly and greeted her brother-in-law with a hug. “Bill, how are the children? Has anyone told them what’s happened… and what of Roxanne? Ron told me that Greyback attacked her! Is she all right?” Hermione paused briefly to draw a breath as Bill shook his head.

“Hermione, slow down!” Bill laughed as Hermione began pacing. “The kids are fine. Fleur is still with them at the cottage, except for Roxanne and she…”

Hermione gasped and started for the door, but Bill grabbed her arm and pulled her in front of him. He lowered his voice a bit more and continued slowly, “Roxanne is fine. Angelina brought her hoping that once George realizes that she’s all right, he’ll wake up.”

“Oh,” Hermione said softly as Bill released her arm, “so there was never an attack?”

Bill’s face hardened and his eyes cooled as he stepped towards the window, measuring his words carefully. “They came,” Bill said coldly, a low growl of hate rising in his voice, “with Fenrir.”

An involuntary gasp escaped Hermione’s mouth as she moved closer to her brother-in-law, fear invading every available space within her. Her heart pounded within her chest as it called to Rose and Hugo. “And – and everyone…” she stuttered, unable to complete her thought as Bill’s eyes settled on her.

His face, deeply lined with scars, was fierce -- but there was something else -- resolution. His voice was flat and low as he said, “I did what I had to do. Fenrir underestimated the monster he created in me that night.” Bill crossed his arms and stared at Ron sleeping peacefully. “Fleur and the girls were getting the kids settled, while James and Louis set up a small tent outside – they thought it would fun to camp out.” Bill sighed heavily letting his gaze fall to the floor as he continued, “I wasn’t thinking -- Fleur told me we should all stay together, but…” Bill’s voice trailed off, leaving a tense silence in its absence.

“But what?” Hermione asked, barely audible, “What happened, Bill?”

“I heard them – even smelled them - long before I saw them,” he growled, the hair on his arms standing on end, “in the long grass near the rocks, on the drive, and behind the tree nearest the house. I sent James and Louis inside, telling them to fetch Angelina.”

“There were at least four of them,” he said, turning once again towards the comforting light of the window. “Fenrir and another got away unharmed.”

“So you killed two of them?” Hermione asked.

Bill nodded, anguish and disgust spreading across his face.

“I – I understand how difficult that must have been,” Hermione said gently, placing a hand on Bill’s arm.

“A child, Hermione…” Bill whispered, “Fenrir sent a child. A boy, obviously bitten, and wild. He came from the roof of the house and was aiming straight for Roxanne. She had, um, followed Angelina outside.” Bill paused, allowing the guilt to wash over him once more. “I had no choice… but to see him transform back as he died…” Bill gritted his teeth, causing the words to sound harsh as they slipped through. “He was just a little boy, Hermione, and Fenrir destroyed that – no innocence – no joy – no peace. Only torture and pain…”

“Bill,” Hermione interjected as his temples pulsed with anger, “he’s dead --- Fenrir is dead. He can’t hurt the children anymore.” Bill began to pace as Hermione stuttered on, hoping he’d understand, “And – and the Ministry, well, they were rounding up the rest of the Death Eaters and – and the werewolves as we left the Manor.”

Bill nodded slowly and then asked, “You’re positive? He’s dead.”

“Yes,” Hermione said. “I’m the one who – well, who killed him,” she added softly, nervously tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

“You... really?” Bill asked, studying Hermione’s face as she nodded. “I just…”

The door to Ron’s room opened quickly, interrupting the conversation as an attendant walked in, his eyes set on Hermione. “Mrs. Weasley,” he said flatly, taking little notice of Ron’s snoring or Bill’s glare, “Mrs. Potter asked me to find you. She needs to speak to you -- about your niece.” The young man simply turned and left the room with no further instructions or comments.

“Nyah,” Hermione whispered, tears filling her eyes.

“Go,” Bill said, “I’ll stay with him.”

With a small smile, Hermione moved to kiss Ron’s cheek and whispered, “I’ll be back soon.”

Ron groaned and turned over, lost again to a deep sleep. 

                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The halls were eerily quiet as Hermione made her way towards Nyah’s room, dread and fear creeping in all around her. Healer Sabinski and the young attendant were standing just outside the door speaking in hushed voices as Hermione approached.

“Ah, Mrs. Weasley,” said Healer Sabinski, “yes, yes -- right on in. They are just waiting for you.” She gave a small pat to Hermione’s arm and scurried away to the adjoining room, leaving the attendant stationed at the door.

As the door swung open, conversations spilled out, distorted and fragmented. Hermione continued into the room, pulled by her need to be near Nyah.

“I just don’t know, Harry,” Ginny cried, as Hermione reached the bedside. “Can’t we wait and see -- give her more time to heal? It seems so rushed and…”

“There is no time, Ginny!” Harry yelled, the anger evident in his voice. “If we don’t do something in the next – what – 28 minutes, she will die! There is no choice and there is no time!”

Nyah was lying still under the white hospital blanket, seemingly unresponsive as her parents continued their argument. Her eyes twitched as the voices grew louder, but the coloring in her face continued to fade away. Her lips were parted slightly, and her breathing was shallow.

Meeting Hermione’s gaze, Harry drew her into the conversation. “Tell her, Hermione,” he demanded.  “Tell her we don’t have time to wait. The spell has to be done – now!”

“And then what,” Ginny sobbed, her breaths coming in short bursts and her eyes swollen and red, “then she’s – she’s – a – a Squib? Is that right? Or – or a Muggle, or…” Ginny gasped, “Hogwarts! She won’t be going to Hogwarts, will she?”

Molly stepped away from Arthur and sat next to Ginny, pulling her into a hug. “Don’t you worry,” she said.  “We’ll find the best Muggle school and she’ll get a wonderful education.” She put on a brave smile through her tears and added, looking between Ginny and Harry, “The point is -- she’s home.  She’s back where she belongs – magic or not.”

Ginny simply nodded, and Harry went to the door. “Please tell Healer Sabinski that we are ready to – to, um, have the spell performed,” he whispered to the attendant.

Standing next to Nyah’s bed, tears streamed down Ginny’s cheeks as she touched the young girl’s face and hair. “I’m so sorry,” Ginny breathed, her voice breaking.

Time seemed to race through the room as Hermione stood watching the scene between mother and daughter. Ginny soaked up every breath - every twitch - every mumble Nyah made as though seeing it for the first time… or the last. She refused to acknowledge the Ministry officials as they walked quietly into the room followed closely by Healer Sabinski.

Josiah Obenhoff, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot stood silently alongside the two other Ministry Officials specifically chosen for this task: Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Hogwarts Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. They each carried a small piece of parchment paper, along with their wand.

Molly and Arthur moved to shake hands with the elders, as Harry took his place next to Ginny, his arms wrapping about her waist in an effort to transfer his strength to her. The room held whispers laced with fears and regret which seemed to settle on each person and weigh heavily.

“Mr. and Mrs. Potter,” Healer Sabinski said, her voice curt reverberating in the small room, “there are some last minute details to take care of, so if you would both come this way, please.” The Healer drew a large piece of parchment from her cloak and stepped towards a small table in the corner of the room.

Hermione watched as Ginny reluctantly moved from Nyah’s bedside. She clung to Harry and he to her as Healer Sabinski quickly outlined the details of what would take place, asking again for their consent to perform the spell, as well as reminding them of the permanency. As Ginny reached for the quill to affix her name to the parchment, Kingsley approached Hermione and greeted her with a kind smile.

“Hermione,” he said, his voice low, “you’re going to have to wait outside. Molly and Arthur will join you shortly.”

With a nod, Hermione turned back to look one last time at Nyah whose face now resembled a porcelain doll. “Please stay strong,” she whispered as Nyah’s eyes twitched in response, “and don’t forget – your Aunt Nene loves you.”

“Nene,” a gentle voice laughed, “I had forgotten she called you that.” Arthur’s eyes sparkled with tears as he put his arm around Hermione’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. He looked loving upon his granddaughter and added, “Uncle Ron and Aunt Nene – she never could say Hermione. You drove her nearly batty trying to get her to say your name properly.”

Hermione laughed, and whispered, “Her first magic.”

“That’s right,” he gasped and looked between Hermione and Nyah, as the memory became more vivid, “She got so mad that when she stomped her foot, Molly’s favorite vase exploded.” Tears of joy and sadness landed on his cheeks. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he sighed, “We have a lot of memories to catch up on, don’t we?”

                                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hermione stepped back into the cold, dim hallway of St. Mungo’s as the sound of Ginny’s sobbing echoed off the walls. The heavy door slowly closed, shutting off the sounds and Hermione stood alone, staring at the wood wanting little more than to be at Nyah’s side.

“We’re going to check up on George, dear,” Molly said.  “Would you like to come with us?”

“Hmm?” Hermione asked, lost in her own thoughts.

“George,” Molly repeated.  “We’re going to go and visit a bit while we wait. Why don’t you come too?”

Shaking her head, Hermione offered to stay close to Nyah’s room.

With a sigh, Arthur added, “Well, you know where we’ll be if you need us.”

They continued down the hall and stepped through the doorway. George had yet to wake from the nightmare he was trapped in. The Healers had done all they could, mending his broken bones and wounds, but it would take time for his heart and mind to heal. Before undergoing treatment, Ron had recounted the numerous spells and curses thrown at George from the Death Eaters, but added that it was Fenrir’s tale which had caused the most damage.

Angelina’s face had taken on varying shades of anger and concern as Ron spoke about the ordeal, but finally rested on such sadness as she realized the depths of love her husband had walked through to simply make it out alive. They now waited – hoping that George would somehow manage to find his way back to them.

Hermione began to slowly pace the hallway, allowing the night’s events to spill to the forefront of her mind. She analyzed everything Lucius had said, but little of it made sense. There’s got to be more – a lot more, Hermione thought as she paced the cold hallway, It doesn’t make sense. But Draco said… Hermione abruptly stopped in the middle of the hall, her mind racing against the clock as the seconds ticked mercilessly by. “Draco…” she whispered.

                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hermione burst through the door to Draco’s room at St. Mungo’s, frustration and desperation burning in her eyes. Quickly pulling her wand from her cloak, she opted to forgo the niceties and get directly to the point.

“Paris, France,” Hermione insisted, her eyes set fiercely on Draco’s as he inched back into his pillow. “You have until I count to three to tell me everything you know about what happened in France with Nyah. What did your father do to her?”

Draco studied her face briefly before lowering his eyes to his hands.


Astoria was sitting calmly in the chair next to Draco’s bedside, her head nearly imperceptibly shaking, her eyes begging Draco to keep quiet.


He closed his eyes and whispered, “It was me.”

Taken aback by this one confession, Hermione took a step backwards, and asked, “What? But I thought…”

“He was there, but so was I,” Draco said slowly, staring at the ceiling to avoid looking at either woman in the room.

“Draco, stop this,” Astoria demanded quietly. “You know they are only after someone to blame this on. Don’t say another word!”

Enraged, Hermione turned her anger to Astoria, “So you would doom a child to not only lose her magic, but possibly her life? She has minutes – that’s all – and I need answers if you have them. Not for me, not for the Ministry, but for Nyah!”

Draco cleared his throat and began speaking, “After Voldemort’s first downfall, Father continued on with his life as though little had changed. He assumed his role in the wizarding society well --- quite well. He tried to rationalize his position, but in reality, he was moving away from Voldemort’s ideals. When the Dark Lord returned, my family paid a great price.”

Absentmindedly rubbing his left forearm, Draco took a deep breath and continued, “When the Dark Lord was finally conquered, Father refused to accept it. He kept saying he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. For days at a time, he would lock himself in the old library, reading and studying all he could find about the darkest magic, vowing to be faithful until the Dark Lord’s return. He then began taking short trips away which usually resulted in townies showing up – usually wizards, but sometimes – sometimes Muggles. He began experimenting on them with spells, potions…”

“Draco,” Astoria whispered, sitting stiffly into the chair, “you never told me any of this.”

Ignoring his wife’s small pout, Draco continued, “The Ministry began its investigation of Lucius after a Muggle woman was found dead. There had been rumors beforehand, but nothing solid for them to go on. But this only inspired Lucius to be more -- creative. He began renovations on the former library and dining hall, but those were halted early on.”

“Why?” asked Hermione, anxious for more information.

“That’s where he found it -- hidden,” Draco said, looking at Hermione. His voice was low, as though the walls were enemies seeking information.

Hermione leaned closer, as Draco whispered, “His wand -- Voldemort’s wand.”

Gulping down the gasp that threatened to leave her mouth, Hermione backed away as another strange piece of the puzzle found it’s way into her mind.

Draco swung his legs over the side of the bed, still avoiding the stares from Hermione and Astoria. He spoke flatly, as though reading from a book he had all but memorized, “The wand – that’s where it all started. Voldemort had spent hours with his Death Eaters coming up the most horrid ways to bring pain to those who sought to destroy him. Naturally, Potter was his first target. That wand was used to record ideas as well as detailed plans for bringing down the Dark Lord’s enemies… and how best to bring down Potter than by using the ones he loved.”

“But he didn’t use Nyah, he simply…” Hermione argued, her mind still trying to add up all of the details.

“It was a thought, Granger – a plan,” Draco snapped, shooting a glare at his former schoolmate. “Voldemort did nothing but spout the thought, but Father – he took it and shaped it --- and finally put it to action.”

Astoria frowned at the complacency in Draco’s voice, and he took quick notice of it. Clearing his throat a bit, he continued on, “Father’s plan was simple. Take the first born Potter child, raise it in the Dark Arts, and eventually use it to destroy Potter. Lucius sought out a Muggle woman who could easily be bent to his ways. In exchange for a better life, she would agree to take in a child – not just any child – but the Potter’s child.”

“Why a Muggle? Lucius hated Muggles,” questioned Hermione, looking between Draco and Astoria.

Draco rolled his eyes in irritation, and explained, “A Muggle wouldn’t know Potter’s brat from anyone else’s, would they? Besides, this particular woman was ruthless -- she, like Lucius, was willing to go to any lengths to get what she wanted. Besides, it was just temporary until the child was moved to a more permanent home.”

“What home?” Astoria asked, looking directly at her husband.

With a deep breath, Draco said quietly, “Ours.”

The small clock chimed the quarter-hour, harshly scolding Hermione for wasting time. “France, Draco,” she ordered, “I need to know what happened in France. They’re in there – in her room, ready to perform a spell that hasn’t been performed in nearly a century. They’re going to destroy her magic, and you’re the only one who has what she needs -- answers.”

Draco glared at Hermione, prepared to see the disgust and anger she typically returned but it wasn’t there. Instead, there was quiet desperation and for a fleeting moment, Draco felt ashamed.

“We trailed the Potters to France. Father had refused to tell me exactly what we were doing -- it was another way of controlling the situation -- controlling me,” said Draco, pausing to bite his lip as anger filled his eyes. “He positioned me so I could watch -- watch as he lured them in, catching them off guard by casting a Patronus in front of the car. But it was the sound -- beyond the accident -- it was her, the little girl…”

“Nyah,” whispered Hermione, lost in the moment.

Draco nodded, “Nyah. She was afraid -- I had never heard it before in anyone so small. I had seen men, even women – afraid… but to hear it in her voice… it just seeped in. She just kept calling to them but they didn’t wake up.” Taking a small breath, Draco stood, holding on to the bed for support as he made his way towards a chair near the window. After a moment to get comfortable, he continued, “I asked him to stop – to reconsider – but he wouldn’t hear of it. We took her -- and Father performed the spell ‘Geminio Corporis’, creating a duplicate of the little girl.”

Hermione scowled, her mind racing to keep up. Putting one hand into the air, she interrupted, “Wait… the ‘Geminio Corporis’ spell is for inanimate objects only. How did...”

“Soul-less,” Draco replied, now looking directly at Hermione. “It creates an inanimate duplicate.”

Frustrated, Hermione snapped, “I realize that, but to perform that on a person - especially a child – is awful.”

“But in doing so, the illusion was complete -- everyone would think the child died in the accident -- while we walked away with Harry Potter’s daughter,” Draco said, staring at Hermione casually.

Hermione ignored him and began pacing, trying to sort out the details, “But what about her memories --- her magic? I need that spell Draco…”

Magiannullo”, he said, indifferently. “That’s the spell --- but it’s not going to be much help.”

“Why not?” Hermione asked, pushing the hair from her face as she made her way towards the door.

Draco stared at the floor and sighed, “Because I just killed the only person who can reverse it --- my father.”

                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ginny stared at the parchment, re-reading the same line over and over, ‘…willingly and knowingly hereby allow the permanent and nonreversible “Venficus Aboleo” spell to be performed…’. Her hand trembled and the quill with it as it neared the line Ginny was required to sign. She took a deep breath, hoping for a calm to the storm raging within her. From somewhere seemingly far away, Harry’s voice called to her.

Harry’s typically bright green eyes were dulled with pain and sadness as he reached out and touched Ginny’s arm. “Ginny, you have to sign. They can’t start until…”

“No,” Ginny whispered, still staring at the parchment, “I can’t. There has to be another way.” She turned and looked at Harry, desperate for him to fix it -- to save their daughter -- to think of something brilliant… but there was nothing but defeat in his face.

Harry shook his head slowly and closed his eyes, never wanting to see his failure reflected in Ginny’s face again.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Potter,” Healer Sabinski whispered, patting Ginny’s arm gently, “if we do nothing, the collisions of magic within your daughter will consume her. It’s already taken a toll on her physical body. By removing the shattered pieces of magic, I have hopes that her body will recover… but if we wait much longer, the damage is irreparable and she will suffer even more.” The Healer set the quill in Ginny’s hand, guiding it to the parchment, “For your daughter’s life, Mrs. Potter. Please sign.”

                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Silence spilled into the room as Hermione's hand lingered on the door handle.

“Perhaps not,” Hermione said quietly, staring into the room. “There’s no time to explain. I need to you to come with me… now. I think we can still save her.”

Draco stood from the chair and shook his head. He turned his back to Hermione as a lifetime of poor choices ran to the front of his mind. He now stood on the horizon of a new life -- free to do as he would choose rather than live in the shadow of his father’s mistakes. But to step out of the darkness required more courage than Draco possessed alone… and thus he remained at the edge of the shadows, staring into the sun. For a moment, his choice was simply not to choose…

The familiar feeling of shutting down took over -- no more pain, no more guilt -- just cold numbness. It was the way of life for the Malfoy family and Draco had learned it well. He closed his eyes, willing the emptiness to spread through him, finally reaching to his fingers as he took a deep breath.

Conscious of someone approaching, Draco stepped back further into the recesses of his mind, longing for an escape when sunlight and heat began piercing the darkness, pulling him closer and finally embracing him.

She wrapped her arms around him, her lips gently pressed to his own. He was a moth drawn to the flame and surrendered to the power she held over him in that one kiss. “Draco,” Astoria whispered as she pulled away, “you can do this.”

His courage was not within himself, but within her. A small smile spread across her flawless face as she took his hand, guiding him towards the door. Holding to that small glimmer of hope, he paused briefly to gather his cloak, realizing a key to Nyah’s survival was tucked safely inside.

                                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ginny scratched her name into the parchment and dropped the quill to the desk. The three officials took their places at Nyah’s bed; Headmistress McGonagall and Chief Warlock, Josiah Obenhoff were at Nyah’s left side while Kingsley was near her right.

“How long will the spell take to complete?” Harry asked, holding Ginny close to him.

“It won’t be long,” the Healer said, nodding to officials. “Please begin.”

Ginny moved closer to the bed taking a spot next to Kingsley, and Harry moved alongside her. “May I hold her hand?” Ginny asked softly as she studied Nyah’s face.

Healer Sabinski shook her head looking at Harry. He reached and took Ginny’s hand from Nyah’s, and held it tightly, silently preparing for the worst.

Headmistress McGonagall raised her wand above Nyah’s forehead and called, “Ut quod ago intus vestry animus, mos ian exsisto infractus, nuquam cretum.”  Soft silvery sparks showered from Headmistress McGonagall’s wand but never reached Nyah’s face as they suspended above her like stars in the night sky.

Nyah’s magic began to react immediately, while a once-absent breeze made its presence known as the air in the room chilled considerably.

The Headmistress held her wand steady while Kingsley cleared his throat and spoke in a soft, low voice, “Ex cruor quod vox, veneficus eram prognatus ut quod eram donatus, lam pro umquam lacer.”  His wand, which was held above Nyah’s waist, let loose blood red sparks, which again, hovered above her body and spread from head to toe.

The young girl’s body began to tremor, and her eyes fluttered. Ginny’s cries once again reverberated off the walls, as she begged them to stop. Harry took a step back away from the bed, pulling Ginny with him as she struggled to reach for their daughter.

Ginny turned quickly and buried her head in Harry’s shoulder, unable to watch Nyah’s struggle. “Please make them stop,” she whispered, hot tears soaking into Harry’s shirt, “They’re killing her -- please, Harry.”

He did the only thing he could at that moment and simply cried with her. They stood clinging to one another as an unfamiliar voice carried through the room. The Chief Warlock’s voice was soft and a bit shaky as he said, “Infractus quod intorqueo lam semotus, a vita vacuus veneficus est vestri perfero.” 

The wind in the room continued to build as Nyah’s breaths came quicker and quicker. Blue sparks from Josiah Obenhoff’s mixed with the silver and red. Healer Sabinski moved next to Harry and Ginny, drawing their attention away from Nyah. “The next part of the spell must be spoken in unison, and once done, they will touch their wands. It will be at that moment that your daughter’s magic will be released,” she said, speaking over the wind.

Still holding on to one another, Harry shifted slightly so that he and Ginny could witness the spell’s completion. All three voices spoke as one, “Virga traho una, a vita verta; una nos dico, ‘Veneficus Aboleo’, pro umquam magis!” 

A single tear fell from the Headmistress’s eye as she moved to join her wand with the other two. The wind was howling, as the hospital room door blew open. Three figures stormed into the room as Nyah screamed in pain, the magic being literally ripped from her body.

“Stop!” screamed Hermione, breathless in her hurry to make it in time. She put her hands up, begging the trio to interrupt the spell. She looked behind her, and called to one of the figures in the doorway, “Do it now!”

Astoria let go of Draco’s hand and he limped slowly into the room, a wand held loosely by his side. He turned briefly and met Harry and Ginny’s stares, while years of guilt and anger fell away.

“Get him out of here!” Harry yelled, pointing towards Draco. “He has no right to be here, Hermione!”

The wind was whipping through the room, and Hermione struggled to pull her hair from her face as she moved between Harry and Draco. “He can save her,” Hermione called over the rushing air.

Not taking her eyes from Draco, Ginny said, “But I thought it was Lucius who performed the spell.”

“Yes, it was,” Hermione said, “but since Draco is his biological son, I believe that with that genetic component – that blood connection – Draco may be able to reverse the spell and not only save Nyah, but save her magic as well.”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other, urgency and panic overflowing within them. Harry shook his head, with his jaw set firm and his eyes burning with anger. He was unwilling to believe – unwilling to trust a Malfoy – unwilling to take a chance. Hanging her head, Ginny felt Harry pull away as hope was ripped from her once again.

“Mr. and Mrs. Potter!” Healer Sabinski yelled from near the door, “Please – let the officials complete the spell. Time is running out!”

Ginny raised her head and found that Draco was staring at her, waiting. She nodded slightly to him and he took a small step forward. Draco quickly raised the near-ivory wand of the fallen Dark Lord and pointed it at Nyah. Above the howling wind, he called loudly, “Necto Magus Renovo!”

A sudden blast of pure white sparks shot from the wand in Draco’s hand, tearing through the still-hovering shimmering stars, and landed on Nyah’s chest. The spell reverberated violently within her small frame, causing her to gasp for air as her body shook.

Draco lay unconscious on the floor, blown back from the explosion from the wand. Disintegrated by the force of the spell, nothing was left of the Dark Lord’s wand but the small handle clutched in his hand. Astoria kneeled next to him, as Healer Sabinski called for assistance.

Kingsley and McGonagall began interrogating Hermione at once, demanding to know why she interrupted the spell, while Harry and Ginny focused on Nyah. The young girl was still and barely breathing, her skin streaked from the spells cast on her.

Harry turned from Nyah’s bed, running his hands through his hair in frustration. “Hermione!” he yelled, “Do you have any idea of what you have done?”

“Harry, please listen…” Hermione said softly, as the room cleared. The Healers levitated Draco from the room with Astoria and the Ministry officials following closely.

Throwing his hands up to stop her talking, he said, “No! The Ministry spell was our only hope --- our only chance to save her.” He glanced at Ginny before heading towards the door. “Maybe there’s still time. They could start again and we…”

The clock chimed the half-hour… Nyah’s eleventh birthday had arrived…
Ginny leaned down and softly kissed her daughter’s forehead, surprised at its warmth. Her hands trembled slightly as they reached to Nyah’s cheek and neck. “Harry,” Ginny whispered, her voice lost in the conversation between Hermione and Harry. Clearing her throat, she called louder, “Harry -- come here!”

Harry moved away from the door slowly, his eyes angrily setting on Hermione’s face. Wrapping his arm around Ginny’s waist, he kissed her hair and finally glanced at Nyah. Her eyes were open and set on him, their golden chocolate color clear and bright.

Quietly making her way to the door, Hermione was surprised to find Draco slowly pacing in the hallway, surrounded by Healers, as well as one very annoyed-looking Astoria. Catching Draco’s gaze, Hermione motioned him into the room with Astoria following closely.

No words had yet been spoken by the young girl and her eyes continued to search the room, finally landing on the stranger near the door. His face was different, dirty and bruised, but those grey eyes -- her mind sought out the memory all those years before when those same eyes looked down on her. This time, however, there was no hate -- only remorse. He nodded and turned to walk back out the door. Before the door closed completely, Nyah smiled softly and waved. She thought she saw him smile back, but couldn’t be sure as the eyes she inherited came into view.

Tears spilled from her tired eyes as Ginny reached to touch her daughter’s face. “Nyah,” she said between tears, “Happy Birthday, sweetheart.”

Nyah smiled and reached up, running her small fingers through the beautiful red hair that had haunted her dreams all these years. Ginny pulled her close, and Nyah whispered, “I missed your hair.”

Finally pulling away and looking at Harry, she added, “And your laugh. I remembered it -- when I was hurting -- I could hear it, like you were leading me through it – through the pain.” She hugged her dad tight and whispered in his ear, “Your eyes… I saw your eyes when I was locked in that room. Could you see me?”

Harry took in a rattled breath between the tears and whispered back, “No -- but I was looking for you every moment.”

“I know,” Nyah said, laughing sweetly, “I told them you would find me -- and I was right.”

Author’s Notes:
A soft translation of the latin spell used by the Ministry officials:
That which lives in your innermost soul, will now be broken, never to grow.
From blood and power the magic was born, and that which was given, now forever torn.
Broken and twisted now removed, a life without magic is yours to bear.
Wands brought together, a life transformed; together we call ‘Magic Abolished’ for ever more. 

I know I said this was the last chapter… but at over 11,000 words and growing, it was best to split it up. But don’t despair – the absolute final chapter of this story is already written and will be posted as soon as everyone has a chance to process this chapter.

Thanks to Megan, my wonderful Beta on the final two chapters. And to my fantastic readers… thank you – you are all amazing!

Okay – please let me know what you think!  And yes, I promise... the next/final chapter will up very soon.

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