“Are you going to be a good boy for Gran?” Ginny asked her oldest child as his father set him down on the floor. They’d just Apparated to the sitting room of the Burrow.
Liam frowned mightily. “I want to go home.”
Draco regarded his son with a quirked eyebrow. “We’ve already discussed this. Your Mum and I are going out for the evening and you’re staying the night with your grandparents.”
He looked up at his mother, giving her a pleading look, but she was too busy handing over Gareth to their Grandfather to notice.
“We’ll have a good time,” his Gran said as she picked him up, “we have strawberry cake for later.”
“I don’t like strawberry cake,” he stated firmly, wiggling to get down.
“Ooh, you like cake don’t you?” Ginny asked Gareth.
“Cake, cake, cake,” the youngest Malfoy squealed, clapping his hands.
“You do so like strawberry cake, Liam,” Draco admonished.
He crossed his arms. “Do not.”
“Son, you are to behave do you hear me?” His Da held his chin firmly, forcing his son to look at him while he gave him a meaningful look.
His bottom lip jutted out as the full-on snit began.
“He’ll be alright once you leave,” Molly informed everyone. “Now, go on have a good time.”
“All right, Mum,” Ginny said, leaning in for a quick kiss. “Liam, be a good boy and I’ll see you tomorrow. Give me a kiss.”
“No,” he stated crossly, his bottom lip poking out more. “I want to go with you.” All he knew was that his Mum and Da had had some troubles that they kept speaking about in hushed tones with Uncle Ron, Auntie Pansy, Uncle Greg and Harry. He wasn’t sure what exactly was going on, all he knew was he didn’t like it.
“Where are you going again,” Arthur asked, finally speaking up.
“I’m taking Gin to see Swan Lake, then to a late supper,” Draco said before leaning in to give Gareth a quick kiss on his forehead. “We’ve got to go, beautiful, before we’re late.”
“Okay,” she muttered, swiftly kissing both of her children before taking her husband’s hand. “I love you! See you tomorrow!”
“Well, do be careful,” Arthur stated in his fatherly way before kissing his daughter’s cheek. “You know the trouble that has been stirring.”
Liam looked first at his grandfather then at his parents upon hearing the word trouble. They weren’t look at him so he was in the clear, but he didn’t like the mention of trouble. That, he knew unequivocally, was a very bad thing.
“I’ll take good care of her, sir,” he heard his Da say.
He watched as his beautifully dressed parents Disapparated with a soft pop from the cluttered sitting room. He thought his Mum looked like a princess out of one of his storybooks in her deep purple dress and sparkly jewelry.
“Have you had dinner, dear,” his Gran asked, drawing the little boy’s attention.
He sighed and nodded, resigned to his fate for the evening. It really wasn’t fair. He pulled Gustav and a book from his bag before plopping down on the sofa near the fireplace.
“Oh, no you don’t,” she said, taking the book from him, “upstairs with you young man, your cousins are up there playing.”
Cousins! They were all older than him – Ian, Malcolm, Alan, and Grant – delighted in torturing him. He knew they belonged to his twin uncles, but he wasn’t sure who went where, only that they were always together. And he didn’t like them all that much. “I’d rather stay here and play with Gareth.”
“He’s playing with Noah, now upstairs with you,” she told him, setting him down on the bottom step with a pat on his bottom to spur him on. “We’ll have cake just before bedtime, go on.”
He glanced at his brother happily playing with the oldest Potter child on the rug before the fireplace. He didn’t mind playing with his brother, but other children that age were out of the question. Grandfather was no use to him as he was busy fussing over the newest addition to the Weasley brood, one Lissanne Potter. He sighed heavily, rolling his eyes dramatically before he made his way up the stairs.
All he wanted to do was go home. Liam hated being at his grandparents’ house because it meant he was just one of many. And there was the little fact that Gustav was in grave danger around his cousins. He could handle the teasing for the most part, but if something happened to his duck, well, he didn’t know what he’d do.
So he found himself a quiet corner in which to park himself, hopefully without notice, until they were called down for cake.
What he didn’t understand was why his parents needed to go out. His Mum told him that she liked going out with Da alone. He just didn’t get that. And Valentine’s Day, he just didn’t understand that at all. They’d been kissy all day, more so than usual – he scowled at the thought. Da should learn to share a bit more; it was his Mum after all.
“They know you’re here,” Timothy stated, holding his hand out to Liam. He was the oldest grandchild and belonged to Uncle Percy and Aunt Penny. “C’mon, I’ll read to you. And don’t eat any of the candy you might find lying about unless you fancy being a canary.”
He nodded his head, knowing that his cousins had more specialty candies from their fathers’ store than you could shake a stick at. He learned very early not to trust the whole lot of them - a visit to Gran’s house was always an adventure. Liam took Timothy’s hand, allowing himself to be led away to a safe place. Of all of the grandchildren, Tim was the most trustworthy with his dark red curly hair and glasses. He was the spitting image of his father. “Okay, can we read one about a dragon?”
Three books later, and it was time for cake, or at least that was what Gran was yelling from the foot of the stairs. Ian, Malcolm, Alan and Grant barreled down the narrow steps nearly trampling Liam in the process. He was rewarded with two slices of strawberry cake, which he promptly demolished while smiling cheekily at his cousins who only got a single slice each. After they were finished eating they were sent to play in the sitting room while Gran put the babies down for the night.
He was next, being in the middle like he was. Gran helped him dress in his blue plaid flannel pajama bottoms and gray t-shirt (just like Da) before tucking him into his mother’s childhood bed.
“Just like a bug in a rug,” she said softly before kissing his forehead, tucking the covers up tight around him.
“Gran, I want to go home.” He struggled to sit up.
“Your Mum and Da went out and won’t be back until late. You’re staying here tonight.”
“But Mummy might need me,” he pleaded.
She tucked him back in, making sure he was securely pinned down. “She’ll be just fine. Your Da is with her.”
“But –,” he started.
“No buts, go to sleep,” she admonished before dimming the lights and shutting the door.
The sound of Gareth tossing and turning restlessly in the trundle bed woke Liam, which was just as well because he was having a decidedly unpleasant dream about figures dressed in dark robes. He quickly slipped from his bed to comfort his little brother before he woke the entire house. By the time his brother was quiet again, he had a plan worked out.
“You be good. I’m going to check on Mum.”
The Burrow was dark and quiet as he made his way down to the sitting room where the large fireplace dominated the room. He’d never flooed before, his Da preferred to Apperate, not liking to get dirty, but he’d witnessed it many times. Mimicking his Uncle Ron’s actions, Liam found himself tumbling out of the fireplace in his father’s study in a cloud of soot, coming to a painful halt against the desk. He picked himself up, coughing to clear his lungs. Yes, Apparating was definitely the preferred method of traveling. Da obviously knew what he was doing.
Once he brushed off Gustav, he set out searching for his Mum.
Liam looked in the dimly lit sitting room only to find two half-empty champagne flutes standing by a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries on the marble topped table by the sofa. It was late, and he decided she was probably already in bed asleep. He took the opportunity to try the golden liquid in the pretty glasses his Mum never allowed him to have, promptly spitting it back into the glass. Now he knew why – the stuff was disgusting and he vowed never to touch it again.
Helping himself to a strawberry, Liam slowly made his way up the stairs, stopping to examine discarded pieces of clothing along the way. One of his Mum’s delicate shoes here, his father’s tie there, her dress laying in the middle of the upstairs hallway – it wasn’t like his parents to be so messy. Mum was always after him to pick up his toys and keep his room straight.
Something was not right and it did not settle well with him.
The first time he heard it, it stopped him in his tracks. It sounded as if someone was in great pain, at least to him anyway.
The second time he heard it, his hands were on the knob to his parents’ bedroom door, pushing it open. He stood transfixed not knowing what to do.
It was definitely his Mum that much he did know. She sounded in awful pain. He listened carefully for sounds that could be his Da. He’d help her, but all he could make out was hushed whispering.
Liam was desperately debating he should do next when he heard his mother cry out in a high pitched voice, “You’re killing me!”
Gustav fell to the floor forgotten as he ran back down the stairs to his Da’s study, tears streaming down his face. The box of floo powder fell to the floor with a crash, sending up an eerie greenish cloud. He grabbed a handful, throwing in the fireplace and yelling for Uncle Ron.
“Liam?” a very sleepy Uncle Ron asked before rubbing his face with his hands. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“Mummy,” he sniffled, “Mummy is hurt.”
“What,” his uncle asked, now fully awake. “Your Mum is hurt?”
He nodded his head as another sob escaped his lips. “Yes.”
“Okay, baby, listen to me – stay where you are. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Liam nodded again, this time messily wiping his nose on the sleeve of his thick dark green flannel robe. While he waited, he nibbled at another chocolate dipped strawberry.
Four soft pops sounded behind him as Uncle Ron showed up with Harry, Tonks and Remus in tow, wands drawn and looking a bit on the rough side.
He launched himself into his uncle’s arms, burying his face against his neck, crying once again.
“Shh, baby, I’m here and everything is going to be okay,” Ron said soothingly, rubbing his nephew’s back. “I’m going to give you to Tonks and go see about your Mum okay? Where is your brother?”
“He’s at Grans’.”
She took him immediately, pressing soft kiss to his temple. “Everything is going to be okay, we’ll take good care of your Mum.”
He settled in his cousin’s arms as he watched his uncle, Harry and Remus sprint from the room. “Can I have another strawberry?”
“Sure thing,” she said, handing him another piece of fruit just as a blood-curdling scream echoed through the house followed by several loud shouts that couldn’t quite be made out from the sitting room. She allowed him to slide down to the floor so she could stand in front of him with her wand drawn, just in case, as she watched the door carefully.
A loud clamoring could be heard from the stairway just before a very flushed Ginny burst into the room with a stormy looking Draco and three red faced Aurors trailing behind her.
“Liam, baby! Mummy’s right here!” She dropped to her knees on the thick Turkish rug as her son ran to her, stopping to look her over before he fell into her arms.
He rubbed his face against the soft silk of her peach colored robe, relishing being in his Mummy’s arms. “I thought you were hurt.”
“Why ever would you think that, sweetheart?” Ginny asked, confused.
“Grandpa said there was trouble and then I heard you,” he sniffled. “You said you were being killed.”
Draco chuckled causing Ginny to turn an even deeper shade of red. Ron nearly choked while Harry, Remus and Tonks looked any where, but at the mother and child on the floor.
“Y-y-you heard me?” she stammered.
Liam nodded his head against her shoulder.
Ron cleared his throat. “Yes, just what were you two doing?”
Draco gave his brother-in-law a smug smile. “Do you really want me to answer that?”
“That would be a big huge NO,” Harry answered a little too quickly. “I think it’s time for us to take our leave.” He nudged his partners into action, three pops sounding almost simultaneously as they Disapperated.
“Sorry, Gin, I hope this never happens again,” Ron said sheepishly. “Now, I think I’ll go home and try to burn this from my memory.” He Disapperated with a loud pop.
“Let’s put the little monster there to bed since it’s too late to take him back to the Burrow,” Draco announced, interrupting the mother and son moment. He offered a hand to his wife, helping her up from the floor before he pressed a tender kiss to her mouth. “Sorry that Valentine’s was ruined. We’ll deal with this mess tomorrow.”
“It wasn’t ruined, not completely anyway,” she smiled. “Why do you look so smug?”
“C’mon, I was so good it was almost criminal!” he smirked.
“You are impossible! Impossible!” she groaned, shifting Liam in her arms. “You don’t even care that I’ll never be able to look anyone in my family in the eyes again.”
His answer was an even smugger smile. "But you love me."
"Right-o, you just keep on deluding yourself!"
“Give me the monster - I’ll put him in his bed. Then we can pick up where we, uhm, left off."
“No! I want to sleep with Mummy,” Liam whined sleepily, tightening his hold on her, fisting his hands in her hair. “I’m never letting you go again!”
Ginny sighed, resigned to having to share her bed with two bed hogs. Draco followed her upstairs to their bedroom where she freshened up the bed with a couple of charms before putting her son down for the night.
Liam’s eyes popped open wide as soon as his head hit the pillow. He had to know. “Mummy? If you weren’t hurt then why were you making that noise?”
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