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"You're not going to use the time turner anymore, Rabi."
Rabastan opened his mouth to argue but Harry spoke again,
"This topic isn't debatable. You've done so much for me already and I won't let you do anymore."
Rabastan looked dejected and that made Harry's heart ache,
"Rabi, look at me…. listen to me…...I'm better now. I'm certain I can manage a few hours without you."
Rabastan turned and looked at Harry,
"Maybe you can but I can't. Harry, I won't be able to focus on anything, knowing that you're alone here. It would have been different if you could use your…"
He broke off in mid-sentence and looked away. Harry knew that Rabastan had a point. He was useless without his hands,
"I've failed you, Harry. I really have failed in taking care of you."
Harry cursed loudly and Rabastan turned to look at him,
"Damn it, Rabi. You haven't failed. Stop blaming yourself. Stop wearing yourself out for me. I don't deserve it…...I don't deserve you…..your care…your devotion…..You've given me more than I could have ever hoped for…..more than I can ever repay you."
Harry closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then opened them,
"I'm going back to the ministry."
Rabastan shrieked out,
Harry nodded silently,
"You heard me, Rabi. I'm going back."
Rabastan jumped to his feet. A look of complete and utter shock on his face,
"Are you suicidal?"
Harry raised an eyebrow and spoke in mock surprise,
"How did you find that out?"
Rabastan stepped forward so that he was towering over Harry,
"He's going to kill you. The only reason he wants you alive is so that he can kill you by himself. You won't even be able to defend yourself."
Harry smiled softly,
"Well he can certainly try. Besides, I won't be needing my hands if he decides to kill me on sight, now will I?"
Rabastan bent over him and rested his hands on his shoulders,
"I don't understand you, Harry."
Harry couldn't help but laugh. It sounded so similar to what Voldemort had said to him on the shore of that lake and he repeated his response,
"I don't understand myself either."
Rabastan fell on his knees beside the couch,
"Please change your mind. You're not thinking straight."
Another chuckle inadvertently escaped Harry's lips. Why was this conversation so similar to his last one with Voldemort? Voldemort had been right though,
"I never think straight. If I did then I would probably understand myself."
Harry looked at the pain and grief on Rabastan's face and spoke,
"I would probably hug you now if I could. I really don't enjoy seeing that expression on your face."
Rabastan raised himself on the couch and held Harry in his arms. Harry rested his head on Rabastan's shoulder and spoke softly,
"My bravery and recklessness; that's what you admire most about me, don't you?"
Rabastan nodded his head imperceptibly,
"I want to see that admiration in your eyes when I stand up to Voldemort again."
Rabastan arms tightened around him,
"Right before he kills you?"
Harry laughed softly,
"Yes, if it comes to that."
Rabastan shook his head,
"I can't… I won't just stand there and watch you die."
Harry pressed a kiss to Rabastan's cheek,
"You will. You have to."
Rabastan burst into tears and it broke Harry's heart. He wasn't afraid of Voldemort. He wasn't afraid to die. But he was afraid for Rabastan.
"Rabi, he's not going to kill me. I can assure you of that."
He wasn't certain about that but he needed to assure Rabastan so he could stay out of the way. He also knew that he was doing a terrible job because judging by the way Rabastan's body was trembling, the man wasn't assured,
"The worst he can do is lock me up, just like last time. But this time, I'll have you, right?"
Rabastan looked him the eyes,
"Why do you even want to go back? There's nothing but pain and death there for you."
Rabastan's question made sense. The Muggleborn Registration Act was just an excuse. Deep down he knew that his traitorous heart just wanted to see Voldemort again, just wanted to be in his presence again. He hated Voldemort….hated the affect the man had on him…..hated the way he made his heart beat faster….hated how breathless and broken the man left him. But he couldn't deny it. There was a connection between them, one that sparked to life whenever they were close. Did Voldemort feel the same way? Had he felt the same way before Harry, himself had quashed and ruined everything? Well, he had done the right thing. For once, he had done the right thing. He admitted that he could have done it better, perhaps he could have used some different words but he didn't regret it. He needed Voldemort to hate him and despise him just like he was supposed to do. This bloody connection meant nothing.
"Does Voldemort hate me?"
Rabastan was momentarily thrown off guard by the question,
Harry repeated the question,
"Does he hate me? The way he talks about me. You must have noticed something."
Rabastan didn't reply for a while and Harry was certain that he was thinking. Harry felt Rabastan's finger rubbing soothing circles on his back and he let his head rest on his shoulder. Finally, he spoke,
"He doesn't talk about you and he doesn't let anyone talk about you either in his presence."
Harry was taken off guard by that,
"Really? He doesn't? Then how do you know that he will kill me as soon as he sets his eyes on me?"
Harry felt Rabastan shrug,
"It happened during a meeting. That bitch was talking about all the ways she was going to torture you and eventually kill you when The Dark Lord crucioed her till she nearly went mad. Not that she was very sane to begin with. But you get the gist. I just wished someday he would kill her. Anyways that's when he declared that you were his to do as he pleased and no one was supposed to lay a finger on you."
Harry buried his face in Rabastan's shoulder and laughed…. laughed until his stomach hurt and his eyes watered. He didn't know why but those words…that possessiveness and obsession in them just made him feel overjoyed,
"Are those his exact words?"
Rabastan nodded slowly and Harry could practically feel his confusion,
"I don't understand, Harry."
Harry pressed another kiss to Rabastan's cheek,
"You're the one who said he's obsessed with me. And if what you said is true then he still is."
Harry could feel understanding dawn on Rabastan,
"But you're the one who said it's not healthy."
Harry grinned against Rabastan's neck,
"It's not healthy that's why he's not going to kill me. He wants me too much."
Harry should have been warned by his own words. A voice in his head kept screaming, Don't go back…...Don't go back…..He won't let you go again if you return. If he had listened to that voice in his head from the start, he wouldn't be here. He would probably be spending the rest of time he had left in peace and quiet at some secluded corner of the world where no could find him and no one would ever know about his death. But the fact was he didn't listen to it. He never listened to it. The bloody Gryffindor that he was, he always listened to his heart and his devious heart was what had gotten him here.
Rabastan was still rubbing his back and Harry whispered to him gently,
"Rabi, don't worry. Everything's going to be fine. I'll be fine as long as I know you're safe."
When Rabastan spoke, his voice was weak and hoarse,
"How come you never consider what I'll feel?"
Harry pulled away from him and looked him in the eyes,
"I am considering it. I'm aware of everything you feel for me and that makes you all the more precious to me. I can't lose you. I would tell you to leave all this behind and just get away from everything but I know that Voldemort will find you, he'll track you down and kill you and I don't want that. Can't bear that. So, I need you on his side…because you're safe there. He trusts you, right? And I trust you too. You need to do whatever it takes to keep Voldemort's trust, even if it somehow involves hurting me. If things get rough, I don't want you to lash out and jeopardize your life. I need you to remember that you're my way out. No matter what happens, you're my way out and I'm counting on you. Do you understand that?"
He hoped Rabastan understood all that because the man's eyes were expressionless. He was as still as a rock and Harry felt as if he wasn't even breathing,
"Can I count on you, Rabi?"
Harry watched Rabastan's eyes fill up with pain,
"You're asking too much, Harry…...I don't think I can…. I can't… Please don't make me."
Harry leaned forward and rested his forehead against his. Rabastan closed his eyes and tears slipped down his cheeks. Harry felt his heart wrench in his chest as he prepared himself to say the words. He knew it wasn't fair to Rabastan…. knew it wasn't fair to make him do anything but he was also certain that Rabastan would obey him no matter what and this was for his own good. Hating himself for the abusing the power he seemed to hold over the man, Harry finally spoke,
"It's an order, Rabi. Stay out of the way, stay safe and do whatever it takes to keep yourself In Voldemort's good books."
Rabastan's head fell in defeat and he nodded silently. Harry finally repeated his question,
"Can I count on you, Rabi?"
Rabastan nodded again. Harry cursed himself for being so forceful but he needed to be sure,
"Do I have your word?"
Rabastan finally spoke, his voice defeated and broken,
"Yes…. You have my word."
Harry kissed his forehead and whispered against his skin,
"Thank you, Rabi."
He paused for a while. Maybe he wouldn't get a chance to thank him again so he spoke,
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