Chapter 56

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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 flicked his wand and Harry looked down to realize that his fingers were once again encased in the black silk gloves. He flexed them and looked up at Voldemort again. His shoulders were tense and Harry wondered what was going through his mind. He was about to say something when Voldemort spoke in a low voice,

"Go to your room."

Voldemort's voice was trembling with barely controlled rage and Harry wondered if his wrath was directed towards him or Dumbledore. Well if he had to guess, it was definitely directed at Dumbledore. As much as he wanted to stick around to find out, his throat was beginning to feel scratchy and raw…signs of a coughing fit. He was surprised he had managed not to cough for this long…come to think of it, his condition had been pretty stable since he had returned. Well, that was about to change. Harry took that as his cue to leave. He was about to move when…

The floor was moving and the noise was like extended thunder made only worse by the vibrations coming from below. The table and chairs were jumping over the floor like they had a mind of their own. They clattered to the floor with several loud bangs. The walls screamed and the torchlight flickered rapidly before going out altogether. The pictures fall from the walls, glass shattered. Voldemort roared again,


Harry couldn't quite understand what was going on. Was this Voldemort's rage? It must be. He was tempted to stay and calm Voldemort down but he had a feeling nothing was going to calm him down at the moment so he left the disarrayed dining hall which seemed like it was going to crumble down around Voldemort any second.

He made his way up to his room, closed the door and locked it. The entire Manor was shaking with Voldemort's rage. It was like an earthquake or a storm was tearing it asunder. Maybe he shouldn't have told Voldemort about what had happened to him. He slumped down on the bed and was instantly consumed by a coughing fit but the sound of his coughing was drowned out by the noise which was many magnitudes louder than thunder. The roar was at an intensity he'd never experienced before. Harry couldn't stop coughing. It rattled his body and probably his soul too. He white knuckled the covers as his chest and stomach ached like hell. The deafening sounds of explosions and crashes rang through the space and the sound of his hacking cough was muted by them. The metallic, bitter taste of blood rose up his throat and overwhelmed his taste buds. He forced his jaw shut.

Get up…Just get up…

He couldn't. He wrapped his arms around his midsection and started coughing again, only mildly aware of the blood that accompanied it. The pain was worse…far worse than before. It felt like the pain that probably preceded death. Was this it? Harry's nails dug into his body as the spasmodic cough rattled his body just like Voldemort's rage was currently rattling the Manor. A weak cry escaped his lips between the coughs. He wanted it to end already. If this was a fit then he wanted it to pass and if this was more than just a fit then he wanted to die.

It passed though…the fit passed and Harry lay on his stomach with his head turned to the side, his cheek pressed in the mattress…so utterly exhausted and worn out. So exhausted that he couldn't even muster the strength to cough. The racket from downstairs had dulled. It seemed Voldemort's rage was starting to cool down as well. If the noise from earlier was anything to go by then the Malfoys must be feeling pretty devastated. Good for them. He opened his eyes slowly and saw the crimson blood stains scattered like blossoming flowers on the white covers. His eyelids fluttered shut again. Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to care. If Voldemort saw them then he would simply blame it on the torture Dumbledore had inflicted upon him. His breathing was still irregular and the pain in his chest hadn't subsided but despite that he was still able to relax a bit.

He had no idea how long he just lay there but he must have dozed off because the click of the lock and the sound of the door opening awakened him. He couldn't bring himself to open his eyes, couldn't bring himself to move. His body was aching all over. Harry knew the person that had just entered his room was Voldemort. Hadn't they seen enough of each other today? The mattress dipped and Harry heard Voldemort inhale sharply. Harry had no doubt that he'd seen the blood stains. Harry expected Voldemort to say something but the man remained silent. Did Voldemort think he was asleep? Possibly. He hadn't moved at all since Voldemort had entered the room.

Harry felt his robes vanish and he was tempted to say something but decided to remain quiet just to see what Voldemort was going to do. He had an inkling though and it bothered him. How did Voldemort know about his back? Had he done something to give himself away? Maybe Voldemort didn't know. Maybe he was simply here to check for more injuries. Well if that was Voldemort's intentions then he was in for a gruesome surprise. His shirt was the next to go and then his undershirt disappeared as well. Harry was perfectly aware of the fact that his marred back, in all its gory glory, was on complete display for Voldemort to see. Harry fought the urge to fidget. Rabastan had seen his back every day when he had been healing and that hadn't made him feel self-conscious. But the way Voldemort was gazing down at his back now was making him feel ill at ease. Maybe because Voldemort had seen his back before it had been ripped apart by Dumbledore. He couldn't help but think about everything that had happened in that shower that day. Voldemort had definitely found him irresistible then. Harry was certain he didn't find him irresistible now.

He battled the urge to flinch when he felt Voldemort's feather soft touch on his back,

"Why, Harry?"

Voldemort's voice was overflowing with emotions and he felt something warm land on his back…drop after drop…tears…they were tears…Was Voldemort really crying? He remained still and forced himself to be quiet. Why indeed? He had asked himself that so many times. He didn't care about Voldemort. He hadn't owed him anything and yet he had risked his own well-being for that man, not that his well-being wasn't that well to start with but still. He still didn't have the answer but he was tempted to believe that he was lying to himself when he said that he didn't care about Voldemort. He did care. If anything, he cared more than he should. First with Dumbledore and now with Nicholai…everything that he had done was because he cared about Voldemort…cared about his interests. No…No…No…He had only negotiated with Nicholai because he wanted to see Hogwarts conquered, he wanted to see Dumbledore suffer, he wanted to kill the old man with his own bare hands.

Yeah right. You're lying to yourself again.

He hated that voice…absolutely loathed it. Why did it keep getting stronger? He had been hearing more and more of it ever since this morning when he had returned to Voldemort. Sometimes he just wanted it to shut up. Voldemort's touch vanished and the mattress shifted. Voldemort was leaving and Harry was gripped by the intense urge to stop him. He didn't though. The door opened and closed and Harry was once again left alone in the room.

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