Elusion

Chapter 53

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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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Voldemort was engaged in a conversation with Marcus when Harry stepped into the dining hall. If Voldemort was determined to pretend that he didn't exist then he would do the same. He inhabited the vacant seat to his right and quickly found himself in a conversation with some nameless, overly frank vampire. In normal circumstances, he would have told him to shut up but right now he needed the meaningless gossip. Nicholai inhabited the seat directly opposite him and gazed at him pointedly. Harry ignored him and tuned himself out of the gossip. Dinner was served and Harry was glad for it even though he had no appetite. He picked up his knife and fork and realized how difficult it was to hold them because they kept slipping through his silk gloved fingers,

"Take off the gloves, Harry."

He looked up and realized that Voldemort's crimson gaze was focused on him. His lips were pressed in a thin line and the rest of his face was an emotionless mask. Harry looked away from him and grabbed the cutlery tighter between his fingers. Voldemort's voice was several octaves louder and aggressive when he spoke next,

"Take off the damned gloves!"

Harry stabbed his steak with the fork with unnecessary force,

"No."

Harry's plate vanished from in front of him and reappeared in front of Voldemort. He glared up at him silently for a few moments until Nicholai's amused chuckle rang through the otherwise silent hall. It only served to fuel Harry's rage and apparently Voldemort's as well because the man pulled out the fork from the steak and started slicing it into bite size bits like one would do for a child and then placed the plate in front of him,

"Since you insist on acting like a child, you should be treated as one."

Harry had half a mind to get up and leave but no…no more running. He threw his knife away which landed on the floor with a clatter and picked up a piece of steak with his gloved fingers. He brought it close to his mouth and ate it with a twisted smirk. The rage in Voldemort's eyes was beautiful but the rest of his face remained impassive. Harry ate the rest of his meal with his fingers and then attempted to wipe them clean with a napkin but they had gotten soiled and he wondered how he was going to get them clean. He rose to his feet and watched silently as the Vampire Delegation took their leave. Nicholai leered at him suggestively before leaving and Harry waved him good bye. Good riddance. He hoped he never saw the bastard again. Harry was about to make his way out of the dining hall and head to his room when his wrist was grasped in a bone shattering grip.

He stood still. Of course, Voldemort's rage was eventually going to boil over and now as a good time as any. He was roughly shoved face first against the wall. Voldemort pulled his right arm behind his back and bent it painfully. His breath tickled Harry's ear and he whispered,

"This is your last chance to tell me the truth. If you don't then I shall unravel it myself."

Harry remained silent and closed his eyes. If he tried to move now, Voldemort would break his arm. His shoulder was already starting to ache. Voldemort hadn't been able to unravel anything till now, Harry was confident he wouldn't be able to unravel anything in the future either,

"Unravel it, Lover."

Voldemort laughed a low predatory laugh in his ear and sneered,

"Careful what you ask for."

Voldemort was too close to him. Harry could feel his warmth seeping through his clothes. It felt incredibly soothing against his aching back and Harry resisted the urge to sigh out in relief partially because his shoulder was aching and partially because he didn't want to give Voldemort the satisfaction of knowing that he found his proximity soothing. Voldemort sounded thoughtful when he spoke next,

"You have had these gloves on since you returned and you refused to take them off when I specifically asked you to. Let me remove them for you, Harry."

Harry's heart thudded in his chest with panic and he attempted to move. No, he wasn't going to allow Voldemort to take them off. He just couldn't. His shoulder protested against the movement but Harry couldn't just stand still and let Voldemort do that. He ground out,

"Don't you bloody dare."

Voldemort chuckled softly in his ear,

"You should have taken them off when I asked you to."

Harry willed his magic to react. He willed it to push Voldemort away but nothing happened. He struggled against Voldemort's hold fruitlessly. His chest was constricted with panic and he had difficulty breathing. He wasn't sure if Voldemort was doing this because he knew about his hands or he was just angry that Harry had disobeyed a direct order in front on an entire delegation. Harry was sixty percent sure that it was the latter.

The gloves vanished and Harry let his forehead rest against the wall. It was over. Voldemort was going to know. He was going to know that he couldn't move his hands. Next, he would know about Dumbledore's torture and then he would discover his back and then…his illness…NO…he wouldn't let it go that far. He just wouldn't. He stared down at his left hand hanging uselessly at his side and attempted to curl his fingers but it didn't work. Voldemort released his arm and Harry felt his warmth retreat. He allowed his right arm to fall to his side as well and felt his shoulder sigh in relief. He wanted Voldemort to leave now that he had had his revenge.

Let Voldemort leave…Please…Let Voldemort just leave.

But Voldemort's voice rang out in the empty dining hall,

"Turn around, Harry."

Harry didn't want to but right now appeasing Voldemort and getting away from him without his secret being known was the only thing that mattered. So, he turned and looked at Voldemort. There was no rage in Voldemort's crimson eyes. He was holding a wand between his pale fingers and Harry realized with a pang that it was his. Voldemort extended his hand, the wand resting atop his open palm,

"Come and take it. After all, it is rightfully yours."

Harry looked at Voldemort and then his wand. Despair flooded his chest as he took a few steps forward. His wand was within his reach. He only needed to raise his hand and close his fingers around it. He tried to. He tried to flex his fingers, tried to curl them but he could barely feel his hands let alone move them. Voldemort stepped closer to him,

"Take it, Harry. I presumed you wanted it so your hesitation does not make sense to me."

Harry stared down at his shoes because he couldn't bear to look at his wand. He couldn't bear the fact that he couldn't take it because Dumbledore had turned him into a bloody invalid. Bitter despair choked him and he squeezed his eyes shut. What would Voldemort think when he will find out? He'd probably be overjoyed. The man yearned to see him weakened and here Harry was…at his weakest. He couldn't even leave…couldn't run because he couldn't use his hands. He couldn't even open a damned door by himself if he tried right now. That old bastard had utterly ruined him,

"I don't want my wand."

Harry paused and realized how hoarse he sounded. He expected Voldemort to laugh…to goad him but Voldemort did nothing. Harry saw something that oddly resembled sincerity in his crimson gaze,

"What do you want, Harry?"

Harry tried to sound confident, tried to sound like his usual self but when he spoke again, his voice had grown weaker,

"I want my gloves back."

Harry's heart screamed as he watched his wand disappear from Voldemort's palm. He would probably never see it again. The wand was soon replaced by his black silk gloves. Voldemort held them towards him,

"Take them."

Voldemort's crimson eyes were glimmering. Were those tears? He broke eye contact and let his head fall. He was starting to hallucinate now. He was sure of it but… He gazed up again cautiously and noticed that there was no such things as tears in those eyes. He'd definitely been hallucinating,

"Harry."

Harry looked up and saw Voldemort thrust the gloves in his motionless, numb, right hand. Harry couldn't close his fingers around them and they fell to the ground soundlessly. Harry kept his gaze fixated on them while he fought back tears that threatened to burst forth. He didn't feel it, couldn't feel it when Voldemort took his right hand in his. He could just watch. He saw Voldemort conjure something in his left hand but couldn't see what it was. Voldemort turned his hand in his grip so that his palm was facing upward and then he realized that Voldemort had conjured a small silver pin,

"Look into my eyes, Harry."

Harry refused to. He wouldn't because he was certain that if he met Voldemort's gaze, the man would be able to see the pain, despair and vulnerability in his eyes,

"Look at me!"

Harry looked up and met Voldemort's gaze and he was surprised to his own pain mirrored in Voldemort's. Had he said something wrong? Had he done something wrong? Was Voldemort hurt by what a disappointment he'd been tonight? Harry forgot everything and tried to remember what he had done to put that pained look on Voldemort's face. Had Nicholai backed out? It could be a possibility. Harry flinched suddenly and looked down. Voldemort had pricked his arm with the pin,

"Eyes on me, Harry."

Harry dragged his gaze away from the pin. He understood what Voldemort was doing. The man must have gotten a clue that Harry couldn't use his hands and now he was testing his theory. He kept his eyes fixed on Voldemort's. Trying to understand what the man was thinking. Trying to assess why his eyes were so full of pain. A few minutes passed and Harry finally blinked and looked down. He noticed several prick marks on his hand at various points on his fingers and palm. He hadn't felt any of them. Voldemort released his right hand and gripped his left,

"Eyes on me."

Harry shifted his gaze back up, expecting to see ridicule in Voldemort's gaze but it seemed the pain in Voldemort's crimson gaze had seemed to intensify. He jerked with pain when Voldemort pricked his arm. But after that he felt nothing. Voldemort released his hand and it fell uselessly to his side. Harry squeezed his eyes shut. Voldemort knew…He knew…

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