Chapter 22

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In the blink of an eye, Voldemort had returned to his desk. Harry forced his mind not think, straightened out his face expressions and slipped back into his relaxed posture. Voldemort spoke,


Bellatrix entered the office, she bowed reverently in front of Voldemort and then spoke,

"My lord, I implore you to reconsider your decision."

Harry straightened up. If Voldemort reconsidered then their deal would be null and void. Voldemort tilted his head and considered Bella,

"No, Bella. I shall not reconsider."

Harry resisted the urge to stomp his feet and stalked out of the room. His perfectly good mood had been ruined. Harry walked towards his office, kicked the door open and stepped in. The mess he had created yesterday had been cleared up and the office had been redecorated. The pink wallpaper had been replaced by royal blue. Even the furniture had been changed. Harry sighed out in frustration. He couldn't forget how easily Voldemort had manipulated him a few moments ago. Harry couldn't forget his own gasp. Why the hell had he even gasped? His finger trailed over his neck. A knock on the door forced him out of his musings,

"Come in."

The door opened and Umbridge and Bellatrix stepped in. Harry looked up at them and couldn't help but grin. They both looked murderous and Harry wondered what it would take to make them throttle him. Harry finally asked,

"So, let's get to work, shall we?"

Harry lazily signalled them to sit. They hesitated before sitting down. Harry knew he was going to enjoy this infinitely. He continued,

"I want you to provide me with all the legislative files regarding Muggleborns and Magical Creatures."

Bellatrix's eyes widened as she realized what he had asked her to do and rose to her feet,

"This will never happen. I shall not allow it. The Dark Lord shall never allow it. He shall never allow those Mudbloods to be equal to Wizards."

Harry's smirk widened,


Midsentence, Harry was gripped by the worst coughing fit. He covered his mouth was his hand and tried to restrain it but it was no use. Harry managed to rasp out,


Bellatrix cackled gleefully and skipped out of the office. Umbridge obliged happily as well. When the door had closed behind them, Harry coughed freely. His chest was on fire and it was aching like hell. Harry felt like his airways were closing. They were coming thick and fast now and he was struggling to get enough air. Harry bent over as sharply as if he'd been punched in the stomach, and drops of blood spattered his lap and knees and stained his jeans and shirt.

By slow, torturous degrees, the coughs eased in intensity and then slowly, gradually passed. Harry slumped back in the armchair and took in deep, harsh breaths. He closed his eyes and wiped away the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand.

Harry laughed cruelly at himself. He deserved this. He deserved all of this. This was what he was going to get for pursuing his desires. Tears streamed freely down his cheeks and he gasped to catch his breath again. He had to get out. He had to get as far away from here and Voldemort as possible.

He jumped to his feet and without a second thought, rushed out of his office. He didn't care where he was going. He made his way to the elevator and pushed in the button for the Atrium. He had only made it to the Fountain of Magical Brethren, when he was gripped by another fit. Harry felt his knees soften and he collapsed on the marble floor. He clutched his chest with one hand and covered his mouth with the other. Harry was hating himself. He had to control himself before one of the death eaters informed Voldemort and the man came down here. The fit passed and Harry sighed out in relief. He knew it wasn't really appropriate but he washed his blood covered hand in the fountain.

Sure enough, as Harry got to his feet shakily, Voldemort appeared. There was pin drop silence in the Atrium and Harry desperately wanted to curse the person who had informed Voldemort. He didn't dare look up though. He could feel Voldemort's gaze on him. Harry drew in a shaky breath and spoke loudly,

"I think we all have work to do."

Harry walked right past Voldemort without a glance and stepped into the elevator. He could feel Voldemort's gaze follow him.

Voldemort hadn't missed the pale look on Harry's face or the weakness in his voice. He signalled everyone to get back to work and thought about going to Harry's office. In the end, he decided against it.

Harry sat back in his seat and looked at the pile of files on his table. At first look he had thought that they were the legislative files he had asked for but it turned out that they weren't. They had come from different departments over the morning and most of them needed his signatures. Harry regretted his escape attempt now. He had gone and made a public display of his weakness and he had also made Voldemort suspicious. No doubt, Voldemort would be thinking about what he had been doing in the Atrium. Harry shook his head. It was done now, there was nothing he could do about it. He picked up a file from the stack and began reading through it.

Harry had literally no idea where the time went. He looked up at the clock at realized that it was eight. Harry rose to his feet and stretched. He was glad Voldemort hadn't come looking for him like yesterday. He was a bit apprehensive about what was coming though. He closed the file and after organizing his desk, exited his office.

The corridors were empty and silent. Harry found it oddly soothing. He silently made his way towards the fireplaces in the Atrium. He could still escape. He could still leave. But his heart didn't approve of escaping now. He didn't want to leave. There was nowhere he could go anyway. But even if he had somewhere to go, he wouldn't leave now. Harry knew that his self-destructiveness was at its peak right now.

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