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Harry stepped out of the fireplace at the ministry with a deep breath. He had left the cloak on only because Rabastan had wanted him to be discreet. The Atrium was buzzing with activity. A podium had been set up next to the fountain and Harry figured that, that was where Voldemort was going to make the announcement. A crowd of people was gathered infront of it and Harry knew they were with the press judging by the cameras. Harry slowly made his way through the crowd. The hood was hindering his vision but he could live with it. He saw a group of masked death eaters next to the podium. He stopped in his steps. No, approaching the podium now was a terrible idea. Harry kept his spot, concealed among the media personnel and waited for Voldemort to show up. Harry hated waiting and he knew that Voldemort wouldn't arrive a minute before or after nine. Damn the man and his punctuality. Harry got tired of waiting and finally sighed out impatiently,
"For Merlin's sake, isn't it nine already?"
A hand on his shoulder made him freeze and Voldemort hissed coldly in his ear,
"It is ten past nine, Harry."
Harry stood still. Voldemort's tone was icy and devoid of any emotion. And the way he had said his name. Like it was bitter was on his tongue and he couldn't wait to spit it out. Of course, Voldemort would hate him after everything he had said but he hadn't been prepared for this. But even though he knew that the man hated him why the hell was his voice making his heart beat like that? He felt Voldemort's hand move up and grab his hood. Harry shook off his momentary daze and yanked himself away from him. The hood slipped a bit but he corrected it immediately and kept his back to Voldemort,
"You accused me of seducing you, didn't you? You said my clothes, my scent, everything that I did was so that I could have your attention."
Silence had fallen all around them and Harry watched as the people retreated to a safer distance away from him and Voldemort. When Voldemort was silent for a while. Harry continued,
"Well who's the attention seeker now? Everything you did in the last few days. This act, nullifying all my work and putting my face on a wanted poster. You wanted my attention. You were practically begging for it."
A curse flew past him, narrowly missing him and the screeching sound that followed it told him who had cast it,
"YOU INSOLENT BRAT! I'LL KILL…."
But Bella never got to finish her sentence because Voldemort's voice thundered through the Atrium,
Harry felt Voldemort's gaze burning a hole in his back,
"My office, NOW!"
Harry knew that command was meant for him and he shook his head,
"I'm not moving an inch from here."
Harry felt Voldemort grab his wrist and he attempted to pull it away. The hood slipped from Harry's head and the cloak dropped from his shoulders and landed on the floor. Harry felt Voldemort's grip slacken on his wrist, he took the opportunity and pulled it away immediately. He turned around and finally faced Voldemort. The expression on Voldemort's face was priceless. He looked so conflicted between want and hate, the look in those crimson eyes alternating between lust and rage. And then an evil smile curved Voldemort's lips,
"I stand corrected, Harry. You do dress to impress me."
Harry looked down at his robes and then grinned at Voldemort,
"I wasn't aiming to impress you but it seems you like what you see."
Voldemort took a step towards him and Harry took a step back,
"Nope, you're not going to lay a finger on me."
Voldemort disappeared and for a moment Harry felt completely confounded until he felt an arm wrap around his waist, while a finger caressed his cheek,
"You are in my domain again, Harry. I believe I gave you too much leeway the last time you were here. It is going to be very different this time. This time, I shall not allow you to run."
Harry struggled against him,
"Let me go, you Bastard. I didn't run. You're the one that told me to leave."
Voldemort's voice was way too venomous when he spoke next,
"I do intend to show you what a Bastard I can be."
Harry bit down on the inside of his cheek as his scar came alive with pain. He writhed in Voldemort's hold, trying to get away, but Voldemort's hold was relentless and when the pain ended, Harry found his entire body slumped against Voldemort and his head rested against his shoulder as he struggled to catch his breath,
"You didn't scream."
Harry spat out the blood at Voldemort's well-polished shoes and couldn't help but grin. He winced as the pain in his back started to come alive and he straightened up as much as Voldemort's hold allowed him. The death eaters were jeering for more and Harry spotted Rabastan amongst them quickly. There was so much agony in his eyes that Harry momentarily forgot his own pain,
"I want you to scream for me, Harry. Can you do that?"
Harry laughed hoarsely and shook his head,
"You have no idea how dirty that sounded."
The pain returned but Harry was ready for it. This was nothing. It was nothing compared to what Dumbledore had put him through. It was nothing compared to what Rabastan must be going through. He closed his eyes tight and focused on anything but the pain. Anything at all. He had expected this. Expected Voldemort to take out all his pent-up rage and anger on him. But what if this was more than just rage. What if Voldemort really did hate him? Well if he did then that was good for him. He could just ask Rabastan to get him a way out and he would get away from this place with no regrets and no feelings. But his heart refused to embrace that idea. What the hell was wrong with him? Was he really that desperate for Voldemort's affection? Harry's thoughts were tuned out by the sound of his own voice screaming. Oh damn it. He clamped his mouth shut but it was too late. Harry could barely move and the only thing that was holding him up was Voldemort. His back was bleeding. He could feel the warm liquid sliding down his skin and slowly soaking the bandages. Rabastan…...Rabastan…He had to tell him that he was alright. He opened his eyes and sought him out. Their gaze met for a moment and that was enough for Harry to reassure him. He let his eyelids flutter shut and spoke out,
"I screamed, now let me go."
He wasn't expecting Voldemort to relinquish his hold but the man did and Harry nearly swayed on the spot before he regained his footing. It took him all his strength and willpower to hold himself up. No, he wasn't going to fall on his knees in front of Voldemort. He turned around slowly and faced him. There was something in Voldemort's eyes…guilt…. regret…it was something along those line. Harry felt satisfied with it. The droplets of blood racing down his back were distracting and the pain was beginning to border on intolerable gradually. Getting the words out was more difficult than he had imagined. He didn't like his voice when he did manage to get them out. It sounded too weak and broken,
"If you were expecting me to break then I'm sorry to disappoint you but I've faced worse."
He wiped the trickle of blood running down the corner of his mouth with a gloved finger and then grinned as best as he could,
"And if you're done with your torture session can we talk about work?"
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