Chapter 52

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Summary: Madness is not a state of mind. Madness is a place. What happens when Harry stumbles into it and gets trapped there? A Harry Potter version of Alice in Wonderland but a thousand shades darker.

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Harry repressed a shiver as Voldemort released his wrist and traced a finger down his spine. Harry knew that the move was probably unintentional on Voldemort's part but he still felt a bit uneasy. He strained against Voldemort's hold but Voldemort's grip was relentless. The amusement in Nicholai's aquamarine eyes grew tenfold and he drawled,

"He is quite feisty, isn't it?"

Voldemort brought his lips close to Harry's ear and whispered vehemently,

"Be still, Harry. Be very still if you do not wish to become Nicholai's meal."

Harry continued his attempts to pull away from Voldemort and gritted out,

"So, I can become yours?"

Voldemort chuckled darkly in his ear,

"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

Harry laughed bitterly,

"At least you admit you're a devil. But you should know that I am not obligated to choose between any devils."

He managed to pry himself away from Voldemort and then glared at Nicholai,

"I think no one has ever had the audacity to tell you what a sick bastard you are."

All amusement vanished from Nicholai's gaze and was instantly replaced by rage. He bared his fangs and took a step closer to Harry. Harry's gaze wandered behind him where the entire vampire delegation was grouping up. He had messed up Voldemort's meeting and Voldemort was probably disappointed. Damn it. He hadn't meant to mess it up. But he had been cornered so what had Voldemort expected? In fact, why had Voldemort even wanted him to be here? The man should have known better. Nicholai was standing an inch away from him and his entire delegation was right behind him. Harry was aware of Voldemort glaring daggers in his back and he knew that he was expected to fix this,

"You weren't even invited Nicholai."

Nicholai was about to reach for him when Harry stepped back. Damn, that had been the wrong thing to say. But frankly Nicholai was an arrogant bastard and if he thought that he could come here and just dominate the meeting then he was sorely mistaken and Harry was bent on proving that,

"I think Voldemort has given you too much leeway. After all, you are his prisoner. A cage is where you belong…"

Nicholai paused and closed his eyes,

"Mmmm…I can almost imagine it. You would look gorgeous behind bars. That pale neck of yours wrapped up in a leather collar…my collar…"

Harry burst out in raucous laughter and Nicholai's eyes snapped open,

"Snap out of your daydream and keep your bloody thoughts to yourself."

Nicholai snapped his fangs and Harry smirked. He was about to speak when Voldemort spoke loudly,

"Let us proceed for dinner."

Harry held Nicholai's gaze and spoke,

"Yeah sure."

He stepped back and sneered,

"After you, our uninvited guest."

Harry felt a hollow feeling in his chest when Voldemort ignored him and lead the Vampire delegation out of the ballroom. He was definitely disappointed and Harry hated that. He absolutely hated it when Voldemort ignored him. He coughed and leaned against the wall. His eyelids fluttered shut as he thought about what he was going to do. Nicholai's slow drawl forced his eyes to snap open,

"He won't always be around to protect you."

Harry pushed his hands in the pockets of his robes. Always was a long time and he didn't have that much. He coughed and covered his mouth with his hand,

"What makes you think I rely on his protection?"

Nicholai was about to touch him when Harry stepped back,

"Don't you dare touch me."

Harry stepped away from him and began walking out of the ballroom when Nicholai spoke,


Harry didn't want to but he was interested in listening to whatever Nicholai had to say so he stopped but didn't turn around,

"This meeting is not going to bear Voldemort any results and you are to blame for that."

Harry shrugged,

"He wouldn't have asked me to come if the meeting had been important to him. He knows what I'm like and he must have known that I was going to mess everything up."

Nicholai's next words pulled the earth right from underneath his feet,

"Maybe it was important to him and he counted on you to be responsible."

Harry laughed hollowly,

"He knows he can't count on me for anything."

Except for he had promised him that he would be responsible. That he would prove his worth. If this meeting wasn't successful then he would be the one to blame. Bella was going to be gleeful that he had failed and Voldemort…Voldemort was already disappointed in him. Damn it! Life was so much easier when he hadn't cared. But he couldn't remember a time when he hadn't cared. There was always something. And right now, there was Voldemort. He didn't owe the man anything but he still hated himself for messing up,

"What was Voldemort going to gain out of this meeting?"

Harry could hear Nicholai's smirk when he spoke,

"Our alliance with his government and our assistance in his siege over Hogwarts."

Harry inhaled sharply as the name brought back all the memories of pain and torture. Dumbledore had poisoned his memories as well because whenever he'd heard the name "Hogwarts" he had thought of home, safety and warmth and now all he could remember was Dumbledore's torture,

"Why does he need your assistance? Aren't his death eaters enough?"

Nicholai laughed and Harry felt his presence close to him,

"Because Voldemort knows his death eaters are useless."

Maybe that's why none of his death eaters were allowed in the meeting. It made him feel all the more inadequate. He balled his hands into fists in his pocket and spoke through gritted teeth,

"What do you want?"

Nicholai stepped in front of him and Harry wanted to wipe that smug smile off his face. Nicholai raised his hand and this time Harry didn't step back. He stood still and felt Nicholai's elongated nails graze against his neck. He cocked his eyebrow and Harry hitched up a grin,

"You never answered my question, Nick."

Nicholai smiled in amusement and murmured,

"Your looks have me absolutely captivated."

Harry grabbed him by the front of his robes, leaned forward and whispered softly,

"Listen up. Bastard. I think we should continue our negotiations later. Promise Voldemort your assistance for now and then we can agree upon what you want from me in return."

Nicholai smirked,

"Shall I inform Voldemort of our negotiations?"

Harry released him and began walking away,

"Sure. Inform him if you want them to end before they even begin."

He stepped into the corridor and couldn't help but smirk when he felt Nicholai trailing behind him. He felt a wonderful sense of achievement at the moment, even though he knew very well that he was going to regret this later…he was going to regret it so much.

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