Elusion

Chapter 57

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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 woke up coughing. He buried his face in the pillow and waited for it to pass. Eventually it did and he sat up weakly. The pain in his chest was a permanent fixture now. He was shirtless again. This was the second week in a row that he had woken up in this state. Voldemort's late-night visits had become, somewhat, a ritual. Most nights Voldemort just sat beside him and stared down at his back while he pretended to be asleep. But last night had been different. Voldemort had trailed feather soft kisses down his back and oddly enough Harry had been half asleep then so he had moaned out at the kisses and Voldemort had only kissed him more until he had fallen asleep completely.

He never understood why Voldemort never replaced his shirt before leaving. It was as if he wanted Harry to know…wanted him to call him out on his late-night visits, but Harry wasn't going to. The morning after the first night Voldemort had seen his back and the blood on the covers, Harry had expected him to voice his findings but Voldemort hadn't. They hadn't even touched the topic. Instead they had settled into a peaceful cohabitation. They didn't talk except at the Ministry or during meetings, even then they kept it short and business like. Harry never saw Voldemort at the Manor, well he never saw him…just heard him and felt him sit beside him in bed every night. Voldemort had hired a healer, who visited Harry every morning. Harry hated the guy but had to admit that he was competent. His back was healing nicely but he hadn't regained sensations in his hands

Speaking of the healer, a knock on the door interrupted his thoughts,

"Come in."

A man dressed in lime green robes stepped into the room. Harry yawned and stretched,

"Speak of the devil…I was just thinking about you Francis and here you are."

Francis took a seat and smiled but it was obvious to Harry that he was smiling just for the sake of it because it didn't reach his eyes,

"How are you feeling this morning, Mr. Potter?"

Harry leaned against the headboard and grinned at Francis,

"What do you mean, Francis?"

Harry noticed the tick in Francis's jaw and relished it. It was so easy to rile him up and it was Harry's favorite thing to do these days. Francis's smile wavered but didn't fall away completely. Harry had to give him credit for that,

"Mr. Potter, are you experiencing any discomfort due to your back?"

Harry shook his head but didn't vocalize his answer. That was another thing that bothered Francis,

"Mr. Potter, would you care to vocalize how your back feels this morning?"

Harry shook his head again and finally Francis's smile fell away and the first signs of irritation appeared on his face,

"Lay down on your stomach, Mr. Potter."

Harry pouted,

"What if I don't want to?"

Francis sighed and Harry repressed a chuckle. They had played this game every day for that past two weeks. It hadn't grown the slightest bit boring for him but he could tell that Francis was wary of it,

"Mr. Potter, we play this childish game every day. You are Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Surely you must be in a hurry to get to work."

Harry yawned again,

"Have I ever been in a hurry for the past two weeks?"

Francis hesitated before shaking his head and Harry leaned forward and patted him on the shoulder,

"I admire your patience, Francis."

Francis pulled out his wand and spoke,

"On your stomach, Mr. Potter."

Harry shook his head,

"What's the magic word, Francis?"

Francis sighed out in exasperation,

"Would you please lay down on your stomach so that I may examine your back?"

Harry snorted,

"You're way too polite, Francis. It sounds so fake."

Harry wondered when Francis would run off to Voldemort and complain about his attitude. He finally asked,

"Have you ever complained to Voldemort about my attitude, Francis?"

Francis shook his head,

"Would you care to vocalize your reply, Francis?"

Francis leaned back in his seat,

"No, Mr. Potter. I have never complained about your attitude to the Dark Lord."

Harry laughed out,

"You're lying."

Francis straightened up and a hint of embarrassment flushed his cheeks. That was all Harry needed to know that Francis really had been lying and he was embarrassed now that he was discovered,

"So, what did he say when you complained about me?"

Francis bowed his head but didn't reply. Harry grabbed Francis's wrist,

"Tell me."

The look on Francis's face was of pure defeat and it bothered Harry,

"Mr. Potter, if I am unable to heal you then he shall murder my family."

Harry released Francis's wrist,

"Really?"

Francis nodded and Harry pulled a pillow over his lap,

"No wonder you don't like me. It seems I'll have to talk to him about that."

Francis looked absolutely terrified,

"You weren't supposed to know, Mr. Potter. Please, I am begging you…please don't tell the Dark Lord that I told you."

Harry didn't reply. Francis stood up and grabbed his hand,

"Please, Mr. Potter."

Harry met Francis's gaze and nodded,

"Fine, I won't say anything to him."

Francis nearly sagged in relief,

"Thank you, Mr. Potter. Thank you so much."

Harry patted Francis on the shoulder and grinned,

"That doesn't mean that I'll stop irritating you though."

Francis retook his seat and spoke softly,

"I wouldn't dream of it, Mr. Potter."

Harry turned over and laid down on his stomach. Francis started examining his back,

"Your back is healing well, Mr. Potter."

Soon enough Francis started tracing his wand over the wounds and Harry cried out as his back began to sting excruciatingly. He gripped the pillow tightly and squeezed his eyes shut,

"You should be used to this by now, Mr. Potter."

Harry clenched his jaw shut as the sting worsened. It lasted for a few minutes and the vanished when Francis withdrew his wand. Harry relinquished his hold on the pillow and finally relaxed. Francis gave him a few moments to recover and then spoke,

"Sit up, Mr. Potter."

Harry laughed into the pillow and whispered hoarsely,

"Magic word."

There was a smile in Francis's voice when he spoke next,

"Will you please sit up, Mr. Potter?"

Harry pushed himself up and leaned against the headboard again. Francis took his hands and pulled off his gloves one by one. He conjured a small glass bottle that Harry knew so well by now. He poured the oil on his palm and rubbed his hands together before starting to massage Harry's hands. He really missed Rabastan at these moments,

"Close your eyes, Mr. Potter."

Harry closed his eyes. He absolutely hated this part. Francis was going to prick him with a needle any moment now and he was going to feel nothing. For a moment, he felt nothing and then he cried out,

"Owww!"

Francis shushed him,

"Don't open your eyes, Mr. Potter."

Harry was tempted to but he kept them shut. He winced again as the needle pricked him. This time he opened his eyes and realized that Francis had pricked his palm,

"You're regaining sensations in your hands. That is very promising, Mr. Potter."

Harry looked at his palms and he felt it…he felt it when Francis touched his fingers. He couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe that this was real…it was a dream…it had to be a dream,

"Pinch me, Francis."

Francis hesitated before pinching his palm. Harry laughed when he felt the pain but what made him happier was how his fingers barely noticeably flinched. It was amazing. Harry couldn't keep the smirk from his face even if he wanted to. He was happy, way too happy. Francis kept a hold on his hands, began tracing his wand over them and started muttering an incantation…the incantation he had been hearing every morning for the past two weeks…well it had worked…Whatever spell Francis was using was working. He sat still through the process despite the happiness that was bubbling in his chest and once it was done and Francis had pulled the gloves over his hands, he hugged him. He hugged Francis tight and thanked him,

"Thank you…I know I'm probably the worst patient you have ever dealt with but thank you."

Francis rubbed his back gently and then rose to his feet,

"I must inform the Dark Lord of this."

Harry grabbed his wrist and stopped him,

"Don't…Don't tell him…"

Francis raised a questioning brow and Harry smiled,

"I want to be the one to tell him."

Francis smiled warmly and patted him on the shoulder,

"Okay, Mr. Potter. As you wish."

Francis waved his wand and an array of flasks and phials appeared on his side table,

"Drink your potions, Mr. Potter."

Harry groaned,

"I absolutely hate them."

Francis shook his head,

"They are the reason you're getting better."

Harry downed the potions under Francis's watchful gaze. Once he had departed, Harry jumped to his feet, discarded his jeans on the way and made his way to the bathroom. He poured all his favourite scents in the bathtub and waited for it to fill up. When it was halfway full, he closed the faucet and immersed himself in the scented, soapy, water. It felt amazing. He didn't linger in the water long though. Once he was done, he stepped out of the tub, dried himself off with a towel and began rummaging through his wardrobe. He'd been wearing nothing but robes for the past two weeks but that was going to change today. He wanted to surprise Voldemort…he wanted to share his joy with him…he wanted him to be just as happy as he was feeling right now.

He grabbed his skinniest pair of black jeans, a tight black silk button up and a fitted black brocade waistcoat. It didn't take him long to get dressed up. He stood barefoot in front of the mirror and regarded his reflection. He looked pale, more pale than usual but well that couldn't be helped. His eyes were sparkling with joy though and that somehow made up for the paleness of his face. His raven black locks were still moist from the bath and tangled up. He attempted to comb them and managed to disentangle them to some extent but they remained mussed up. He gave up on them and grabbed a pair of dragon hide, steel tipped boots. After pulling them on, he admired his reflection in the mirror. He hadn't looked like this ever since he had returned. He smirked at his reflection the in mirror. Well, Voldemort was certainly in for a surprise today.

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