Chapter 65

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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 cursed verbally and saw Umbridge practically jump with fear. He tossed the invite at Voldemort who caught it effortlessly,

"You invited the vampires despite the fact that I absolutely hate Nicholai."

Voldemort merely chuckled and that got on Harry's nerve. He flipped through the rest of the invites without paying much attention and pulled out the one addressed to the goblins. He dropped the rest of them on the floor and was about to stomp out of the office when Voldemort spoke,

"You need not worry. I am certain that Nicholai will not be attending and send Marcus in his stead."

Harry walked out of the office without deigning Voldemort with a reply or a backward glance. Voldemort didn't know what Harry knew. Nicholai wasn't going to let this opportunity go. He was going to turn up and demand that Harry hold up his end of the deal. Oh, he was in trouble…so much trouble. He didn't need to deal with this on top of everything that was going on.

Once he was back inside his office, he dropped the envelope, locked the door with trembling hands and allowed the maelstrom to consume him. Emotions swirled inside his heart as streaks of fire burned his cheeks. Each new wave a hot trail of agony as his shoulders shook with each rake of emotion through his frame. The fire of shame and pain burned just under his skin and a deep emptiness filled his heart as the sentiments brewed over and boiled past the seams he could no longer hold together. His breathing hitched as his knees grew weak and he slumped to the floor.

Everything Rabastan had done for him flashed in front of his eyes and he had to clamp a hand over his mouth to muffle the howl of agony that left his lips. Guilt was eating and pestering him. It was burning his mind and throat. Remorse hit him like a sledgehammer. He could feel daggers sinking into every inch of his body and the pain consuming him. He wished for a Time Turner so he could go back, rectify the mistake…the worst of all he had done. However, he could not. A Time Turner would only make things worse. He had to live with it for the short time he had left. Remorse etched at his heart. Guilt gnawed at him like a worm at the core of an apple. He banged his head against the door over and over again as he cried and coughed and attempted to muffle the distressed sounds escaping his lips.

He lost track of time…lost track of himself…But when he finally managed to get a grip on himself, he pulled away his hand from his mouth and saw his blood-soaked gloves. He rose to his feet shakily, threw open the drawers of his desk and pulled out the extra pair Voldemort had gotten him. Once he had changed his gloves and wiped his face clean. A quick glance at the clock told him that he still had time left. He slumped down in his chair and just stared up at the ceiling,

"I'm so sorry, Rabi…I'm just so sorry…"

Voicing it only made the ache grow worse. He wanted to fall at Rabastan's feet and beg him for forgiveness. He would do anything to have his warmth and affection back…

NO! Haven't you ruined him enough already?

Harry rested his forehead against the cool surface of his desk and cursed the voice in his head. It was right…it was so right. But he didn't know how to deal with this pain and he was certain that the bloody voice in his head wouldn't give him any help on that. He banged his fists on the table in frustration. He needed to forget Rabastan…needed to stop thinking about him but he couldn't…couldn't get his face out of his head…couldn't stop thinking about his smile and his warm arms and his pure affection.

Don't go there.

Right, he wiped his thoughts clean and rose to his feet. Maybe some fresh air would do him good. He rose to his feet and regarded his reflection in the mirror. Despite the fact that his eyes looked a little swollen, he didn't look like he'd just had a meltdown. He rehearsed his most nonchalant expression and once he was satisfied, he turned away from it and noticed the gold embossed envelope lying by the door where he had dropped it. He picked it up, unlocked the door and stepped out of his office.

His first stop was going to be Diagon Alley. The invite was just an excuse, his real purpose was to get some gold out of his vault and since he didn't have a wand anymore, he could use the invite as a subtle bribe. He made his way down to the Atrium and managed to floo himself to Diagon Alley without any interruptions.

He wasn't even stopped at the Gringotts entrance. In fact, the guards welcomed him like he had never seen them welcome anyone else and one of them even led him inside to the Head Goblin's office. His post certainly had some advantages. The Head Goblin greeted him cheerily and Harry faked some cheerfulness of his own despite how much it sickened him. Once he was seated, Harry watched the goblin eye the envelope in his hand greedily. He smiled as brightly as possible and slid it across the desk. The goblin snatched it from the desk and spoke,

"Mr. Potter, we are honoured that you graced us with your presence and delivered this personally. How can we be of service?"

Harry sat up straight in his seat and decided to inflate the Goblin's ego. Flattery was going to get him everywhere,

"The honour is all mine. I enjoyed your company immensely this morning. Besides, it is my belief that Goblins deserve the utmost respect and reverence of wizards for the immense responsibilities they shoulder."

His words had the desired effect on the Goblin and he puffed his chest out,

"Mr. Potter, you are most kind and we Goblins value your thoughts immensely."

Harry pretended to be flattered, lowered his lashes and gave his most modest smile,

"You flatter me, Sir."

That honorific was the last straw because the Goblin looked like he was going to burst open with pride and self-importance,

"Surely there must be something we can do to serve you, Mr. Potter."

Harry pretended to think about it and spoke,

"Well, if you insist. I would like to withdraw some gold from my vault."

The Goblin looked a bit disappointed and spoke,

"That is just a meagre service, Mr. Potter. There must be something more we can do for you."

Harry rose to his feet and shook the Goblin's hand,

"It is sufficient for now."

The goblin grinned and held onto his hand. Harry repressed a shudder and thanked the heavens when he was being escorted to his vault by another goblin. Once inside his vault, the goblin provided Harry with a charmed pouch. He filled it up with as much as gold as he'd figured he'd need, closed it and slipped it in the pocket of his jeans with ease. It didn't weigh at all and it didn't take any space either.

On his way out of Gringotts, Harry met the Head Goblin again, thanked him for everything and was on his way. It was dark now and he headed straight for Knockturn Alley and moved through the dark streets. All manners of odd wizards and witches crowded them and Harry felt himself being subjected to several judgemental stares but he was immune to them. A clothing shop caught his eye and he pushed open the door and walked in without much thought. A wizard sat at the counter with a copy of the evening Prophet open in front of him. Harry noticed a picture of himself on the front page that looked like it had been taken outside the courtroom. Ignoring it he made his way to the racks and began shuffling through the clothes on display. A dark green silk shirt captured his attention and he observed it closely. The front was plain but an inscription along with a picture of the grim reaper holding a heart in his bony hand was embroidered with silver thread on the back. The inscription read, "It's not my fault the reaper holds my heart." Harry laughed and the man on the counter finally looked at him. Harry was mildly amused to see how shocked the man was.

He ignored him and looked down at the shirt again. The inscription was so true and fitted him so perfectly. He was definitely getting this. He picked out a few more shirts, some skin-tight jeans and a set of deep crimson robes that had a beautiful symmetrical pattern embroidered on them with gold and black thread. They somehow reminded him of Voldemort's eyes and looked like they would fit the man. He was getting tired of seeing him in black robes all the time. He deposited his selections on the counter and snapped his fingers at the man who was gawking at him like he was some outwardly magical creature. The man shook himself out of his stupor and began packing the things quickly,

"It's an honour to have you in my shop, Mr. Potter."

Harry gazed around the shop and spoke,

"I like your shop."

He looked at the man who looked a bit dazed but then he spoke,

"Can I interest you in something special?"

Harry thought for a moment before nodding,


The man's face lit with happiness,

"Give me a minute, Mr. Potter."

Harry smiled at him,

"Take five."

The man hurried away to a backroom while Harry rummaged through the racks to pass the time. It didn't take long for the man to reappear with a wooden box in his hand. He set it down on the counter and Harry walked over. He wasn't expecting anything special but when the man opened the box. A gold locket lay in it. It was as large as a chicken's egg. An ornate letter 'S', inlaid with many small emeralds, glinted dully in the diffused light. Something about it just pulled at Harry so he picked it out of the box and turned it over in his fingers. The thing looked perfect, pristine. And then he felt it. Was it his own blood pulsing through his veins that he could feel, or was it something beating inside the locket, like a tiny metal heart. He tried to prise the locket apart with his fingers but it didn't work. Nevertheless, he was absolutely fascinated by it and spoke,

"How much do you want for it?"

The man spoke without hesitation,

"Two hundred Galleons."

Harry laughed,

"That's a lot for a money for a little locket. What's so special about it?"

The man looked at the locket in Harry's hand and spoke,

"This is Salazar Slytherin's Locket, My Lord."

Harry moved his thumb over the S,

"Oh really?"

The man nodded and Harry felt that there was some truth to his statement because of how the locket felt,

"Where'd you find it?"

The man hesitated for a moment but then he spoke,

"I bought it from someone else."

Harry laughed,

"Really? And how much did you pay for it?"

The man bowed his head and mumbled something,

"Can't hear you."

He looked up and spoke,

"I can't lie to you, My Lord. I paid fifty galleons for it. You can have it for free if it pleases you."

Harry chuckled softly and patted him on the hand,

"I don't mind the fact that you charged me three times more than what you paid for it. In fact, I like it and I'm definitely buying it."

He pulled out his pouch. He wasn't about to start counting two hundred galleons so instead he dumped a large amount of them on the counter that looked like they were more than enough. The man pulled out his wand and with a wave, the galleons began hoping into the cash register one by one at an incredible rate. They stopped moving when only a quarter of them remained and the man pushed them back towards Harry. Harry spoke,

"You didn't charge me for the clothes?"

The man smiled,

"Consider them a present, My Lord."

Harry deposited the leftover galleons back in the pouch and dropped the locked in with them before pushing it back in his pocket. He looked at the packed bundle of clothes and spoke,

"Could you have them delivered to Malfoy Manor?"

The man looked a bit uncomfortable and Harry spoke,

"Tell them that the package is mine and no one is allowed to touch it. They won't bother you once they know it's mine."

The man nodded and Harry extended his hand. He shook it and Harry smiled,

"Pleasure doing business with you."

The man bowed his head,

"The pleasure is all mine, My Lord."

Harry left the shop fairly happy with his purchases especially the locket. He breathed in the cool night air and continued down the street. He felt better…not completely fine but definitely better than he had felt an hour ago. The sound of music playing at a distance caught his attention and his feet began leading him in that direction. Harry noticed a crowd of people around the source of it. He walked closer and realized that people were lined outside a…Harry looked for a board or a sign that indicated the name of the place and what it was…But he found nothing…A bulky man in black robes was guarding the entrance. It didn't take a genius to put two and two together. He was standing outside a club…although the nature of the club still eluded him because the queue of people outside the club only contained of guys…Harry singled most of them out as wizards but he spotted a few hauntingly beautiful individuals in the line and he chalked them up to Vampires. A smirk crossed his features as he noticed a couple making out against the wall.

So…This place was like a magical gay club. Wow…he hadn't imagined a place like this existed. For a moment, he stood in the shadows and contemplated whether he should go in or not. That was a no brainer. This was exactly what he needed to stop thinking about Rabastan but he wasn't going to wait around in a line and he would stir up a storm if someone attempted to stop him on the grounds of him being underage. He strode towards the entrance and the bulky wizard that guarded it. The man gave him a once over. Harry fixed a smirk on his face and quirked up an eyebrow, daring the man to stop him. The man's eyes widened as recognition flashed in them. He bowed his head and pulled away the velvet rope from the entrance,

"Mr. Potter…it's an honour to have you here."

Harry wasn't unaware of the other wide-eyed stares he received from the people waiting in the queue. He smiled at the man, thanked him and proceeded into the club. It was like he had walked into another world. Hazy smoke swirled on the floor. An array of blues, acid greens, hot pinks and gold lit up the space. The music was loud enough to drown out all his thoughts and he was perfectly happy with that.

He scanned the writhing bodies on the dance floor. Skin shining with sweat, hips and arms an invitation and a celebration of sex. It was weird…not the bad kind of weird…the good kind of weird…It made him realize that he hadn't lived at all and now his life was so close to over. He was glad though…glad he had gotten a chance to experience this…Had he ever felt this kind of freedom? No, he hadn't. And he probably wouldn't have experienced it if he had remained under Dumbledore's thumb. He also realized another thing. He was in desperate need of a bucket list…things he wanted to do before he died. It was so cliché but he wanted it now. To hell with crawling in a silent corner and dying in peace. He was going to make sure that he went out with a bang.

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