Elusion

Chapter 104

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Harry was laying on the bed with his head in Voldemort's lap. He was afraid to close his eyes but struggling not let his fear show. Voldemort was concerned about him enough already. He ran his gaze around the room and noticed the book shelf beside the vanity. How had he never seen it before? Maybe because every time his full attention had been on Rabastan. He missed his smiles, his warmth, his laughter and his concern. Voldemort wiped the tears away from his eyes and Harry spoke,

"Read to me."

He watched as Voldemort followed his gaze and looked at the book shelf. He pressed a kiss to his forehead as he summoned the books to himself and asked,

"What would like to listen to?"

Voldemort began rattling off the titles and Harry stopped him,

"That one…Tales of beetle the whatever…"

Voldemort frowned as he picked up the book from the stack and opened it,

"Have you read it before?"

Voldemort shook his head with a chuckle,

"It's The Tales of Beedle The Bard. These are children stories. Are you sure you want to listen to them?"

Harry laughed and nodded,

"Yes, I do. So, are these like the magical versions of muggle fairy tales?"

Voldemort flipped through the pages and then spoke,

"Yes. They are."

Harry nuzzled his head in Voldemort's lap,

"Read, Lover."

Voldemort started reading to him. The first one was the story of Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump. Voldemort read with so much conviction, he even changed his voice for all the different characters. When Voldemort finished the story, Harry couldn't help but pull him down and kiss him,

"I love you."

Voldemort smiled and caressed his cheek,

"I love you too. Ready for another one or do you want to rest?"

Harry shook his head,

"No, I want to listen to all of them."

Voldemort kissed his forehead and started reading the next one. The Fountain of Fair Fortune. Voldemort sounded just as intrigued as he felt. It saddened him a bit. These were children's tale. They were meant to be read to children but Voldemort and him had been brought up by muggles in environments that were far from ideal for children. But, he was glad that they'd gotten a chance to discover these tales together. Voldemort continued to read the next two tales, The Wizard and the Hopping Pot and The Warlock's Hairy Heart.

He was saddened by the ending of The Warlock's Hairy Heart and Voldemort seemed just as gloomy. It was dark. Why had they ever put a story like that in a children's book? Harry raised his hand up and stroked Voldemort's chin,

"Would you have still created the horcruxes if you'd heard this story before?"

Voldemort bent down and kissed his head,

"The past is in the past. You are my heart now. You have taught me how to feel again. You are my love. You are my life, and this is why I am not allowing you to create horcruxes."

Harry closed his eyes,

"I know…I don't want horcruxes."

Voldemort set the book down and spoke,

"You need to eat something and take your potion before I read the last one to you."

Harry groaned and covered his eyes with his forearm,

"Do I have to?"

Voldemort nodded,

"Now what do you want to eat?"

Harry rolled on his side,

"Nothing. I feel sick."

He felt Voldemort's fingers smooth through his hair,

"Harry, you must eat."

It was so difficult to keep food down these days but he knew that he had to eat to keep up his strength otherwise he'd wind up in bed. Voldemort pulled him up into a sitting position and conjured a tray that was laden with a plate of sandwiches and a pitcher of pumpkin juice. Voldemort picked one up and held it to his lips. Harry took a small bite, chewed on it and swallowed it. A wave of nausea swept through him but he willed himself to fight it. Voldemort instantly poured a glass of pumpkin juice and held it to his lips. He took a sip and instantly felt better.

He managed to get down half of the sandwich and the entire glass of juice which was quite the achievement. Voldemort vanished the tray and held the flask of potion to his lips. He downed it with a grimace and Voldemort gave him a pleased smile before kissing his cheek and vanishing the flask,

"I should find more tales like these so that you may eat like this every day."

Harry couldn't help but laugh at that. He rested his head on his shoulder and spoke,

"Read the last one. I can't wait."

Voldemort picked up the book again and flipped to where the story was starting. A curious symbol headed the top of the page and Harry felt like he'd seen it before. Voldemort started reading and he put it to the back of his mind,

"There were once three brothers who were travelling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too deep to wade through and too dangerous to swim across. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water. They were halfway across it when they found their path blocked by a hooded figure. And Death spoke to them…"

Harry couldn't help but speak,

"That's not an apt description of death. Death is a shadow with black wings."

Voldemort wrapped an arm across his shoulder and kissed his temple,

"Harry, this is just a fairy tale."

Harry snorted and nodded,

"Go on."

Voldemort started reading again,

"And Death spoke to them. He was angry that he had been cheated out of three new victims, for travellers usually drowned in the river. But Death was cunning. He pretended to congratulate the three brothers upon their magic and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him.

So, the oldest brother, who was a combative man, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence: a wand that must always win duels for its owner, a wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death! So, Death crossed to an elder tree on the banks of the river, fashioned a wand from a branch that hung there, and gave it to the oldest brother.

Then the second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death. So, Death picked up a stone from the riverbank and gave it to the second brother and told him that the stone would have the power to bring back the dead.

And then Death asked the third and youngest brother what he would like. The youngest brother was the humblest and also the wisest of the brothers, and he did not trust Death. So, he asked for something that would enable him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And Death, most unwillingly, handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility."

Harry frowned,

"Death had a cloak of invisibility?"

Voldemort shrugged,

"It is just a fable. Anything is possible."

Harry buried his head in the crook of Voldemort's neck,

"Go on."

Voldemort started talking again,

"Then Death stood aside and allowed the three brothers to continue their way and they did so, talking with wonder of the adventure they had had, and admiring Death's gifts.

In due course the brothers separated, each for his own destination. The first brother travelled on for a week or more, and reaching a distant village, sought out a fellow wizard with whom he had a quarrel. Naturally, with the Elder Wand as his weapon, he could not fail to win the duel that followed. Leaving his enemy dead upon the floor, the oldest brother proceeded to an inn, where he boasted loudly of the powerful wand he had snatched from Death himself, and of how it made him invincible. That very night, another wizard crept upon the oldest brother as he lay, wine-sodden, upon his bed. The thief took the wand and, for good measure, slit the oldest brother's throat. And, so, Death took the first brother for his own.

Meanwhile, the second brother journeyed to his own home, where he lived alone. Here he took out the stone that had the power to recall the dead and turned it thrice in his hand. To his amazement and his delight, the figure of the girl he had once hoped to marry before her untimely death, appeared at once before him. Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered. Finally, the second brother, driven mad with hopeless longing, killed himself so as truly to join her. And so, Death took the second brother for his own.

But though Death searched for the third brother for many years, he was never able to find him. It was only when he had attained a great age that the youngest brother finally took off the Cloak of Invisibility and gave it to his son. And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life."

He took the book from Voldemort's hand and looked at the symbol again. Trying to remember where he'd seen it before and then it hit him. He raised his hand and looked at the ring on his finger closely. There it was…the symbol on the stone…

"What is this symbol?"

Voldemort took his hand in his and stared between the ring and the symbol on the page,

"I…I have no clue."

Harry pulled the ring off his finger and spoke,

"Could it be the resurrection stone?"

Voldemort shook his head,

"Harry…that was not real."

But there was no conviction in his tone and Harry knew that he was just as eager as him to test the theory. But, Harry didn't want to call Rabastan or anyone else from the dead because of the example of the second brother. He pulled the ring back on and inquired,

"Where is my invisibility cloak?"

Voldemort smiled,

"I shall give it to you if you promise not to vanish."

Harry laughed,

"Never."

Voldemort conjured his invisibility cloak and Harry immediately held the shimmering material to his chest,

"I missed it so much."

Voldemort kissed his forehead,

"I enjoy seeing you happy."

Harry rested his forehead against his,

"We need to find out more about this symbol. I have a feeling we're onto something."

Voldemort ran his hand through his hair,

"Harry, I will research it but you must not…"

Harry clamped a hand over his mouth,

"Don't tell me not to get excited. You have no idea how fast my heart is beating right now and how right this feels."