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Harry woke up in the middle of the night with his lungs on fire and coughing breathlessly. Voldemort was holding him tight and rubbing his back, but it wasn't working. He curled up tighter against Voldemort as his chest and stomach felt like they were being scorched by acid and his body starved for oxygen. He was distantly aware of Voldemort murmuring something…some incantation but it wasn't working. It wasn't working at all. He couldn't draw in a particle of oxygen into his lungs. There was a stake being hammered into his chest, the strikes radiating pain in a way that shattered his body and brain. The darkness crept up at the edges of his vision and he fought it with everything he had in him. No, he was not going to pass out. He was not going to die. He absolutely refused to die. Voldemort's voice got louder and more desperate as recited the incantation. He held onto the sound of Voldemort's voice, willed it to anchor him to consciousness but the pain was merciless and without escape and his body's desperate need for oxygen was increasing by the second.
For a second, he felt too weak to fight. For a moment, giving in felt like the better option. His head fell onto Voldemort's shoulder, his eyes flickered shut. Voldemort carded his finger through his hair as he pleaded,
"Breathe, Harry…Please…breathe for me…"
Those words were incentive enough for him to fight all the more harder and his efforts bore fruit. Eventually, the pain settled into a sort of sharp throbbing that kept time with both his and Voldemort's heart. He drew in several shuddering breaths and Voldemort continued to soothe him as he held him close to his chest,
"Keep breathing, Harry. You are going to be fine now…"
Harry wrapped his arms around Voldemort's shoulder and buried his face in the crook of his neck,
"I have some confessions to make."
Voldemort laid him down on the bed and pulled the covers over him. He was still struggling to breathe properly but the pain had gone down a notch. He noticed his blood on Voldemort's chest and wrapped his arms around his waist. Voldemort kissed his temple and murmured against his skin,
"Confessions can wait. You need to rest."
Harry drew in a shaky breath and managed to get out,
Voldemort brow furrowed, and puzzlement filled his eyes, but he summoned his jacket and Harry signalled wordlessly to the pocket as his breathing hitched once more. Voldemort retrieved the bottle from the pocket. Harry forced himself into a seated position and took the bottle from Voldemort's hand,
He popped two of the pills in his mouth and Voldemort held the glass of water to his lips. Swallowing the pills was a battle in itself but once that was done, he leaned back against the headboard and put the bottle on the side table. He smiled when he felt Voldemort's arms wrap around him and pull him close once again. He could feel the concern pouring off Voldemort's being and that cut him up inside,
"What can I do to make you feel better?"
Harry snuggled into his chest and spoke,
"Just hear me out as calmly as possible."
He breathed in Voldemort's scent and willed it to give him the strength he needed to get the words out. Voldemort ran his fingers through his hair and spoke with a voice that was laced with uncertainty,
"I am listening."
He moved his fingers over the flawlessly smooth skin of Voldemort's back and breathed out,
"I have cancer."
Voldemort's body stiffened against his and for a moment, Harry thought that he was going to pull away from him and shout but that didn't happen, instead Voldemort's body relaxed. He chuckled, and his voice was filled with fond exasperation when he spoke,
"Harry, please be serious. Cancer is not even a possibility. You have magical blood running through your veins."
How was he going to explain all this to Voldemort? The task seemed more difficult than anything he had ever done before,
"I am being serious. I don't know how it happened, but the theory is that Dumbledore messed with my magical core and damaged it beyond repair. The damage is the reason I lost my immunity to muggle diseases and I think I can't even cast magic anymore."
This time Voldemort did pull away and his hopeful crimson eyes searched his gaze for a sign that he was joking. He wished he was joking. He wished he didn't have to put Voldemort through this but this wasn't a joke and Voldemort needed to know. Harry's heart broke into a billion tiny shards just as the hope shattered in Voldemort's eyes and the realization that he was telling the truth dawned on him. A thousand emotions flitted in the span of a second through Voldemort's eyes and finally the emotions that dominated them were pain and rage. Voldemort thrust his wand in his hand and spoke in a deceptively calm voice,
"Cast a spell."
Harry's hand trembled uncontrollably as he struggled to keep a hold on it. This was the moment of truth. He was going to find out whether he had really lost his ability to perform magic. Harry prepared himself for every outcome but he couldn't get his lips to utter an incantation. Voldemort held his hand steady and pressed a kiss to his forehead,
"You can do it, Harry."
Harry wished he had as much confidence in his abilities as Voldemort had but he didn't. He aimed it at the pill bottle that he placed on the side table and spoke,
It didn't even budge and Harry nearly dropped the wand as everything inside him felt wrecked. Till now, he had been clinging to the hope that Deus's theory might be wrong and that he hadn't lost his magic. Now that hope had been shattered and it hurt like hell. Voldemort's hold tightened on his wrist and he spoke,
There was no point in trying again. Voldemort was only saying that because he didn't feel what he felt. The spark…the energy he had always felt when he had cast any spell was gone. He searched desperately for it, struggled to get a hold of it but there was nothing left of it inside of him. There wasn't a shred of it left,
"I can't do it…I don't have it anymore."
Voldemort's hand fell away from his wrist and Harry dropped the wand as his mind clouded with pain, his heart grew cold and numb with pent up emotions. He felt clogged with pain and anger, hurt, and fear. His chin trembled as if he was a small child. His breathing got heavier until he was gasping for air that simply wasn't there. His throat burned forming a silent scream. So, he let it out in one long mournful yell to the heavens. He cried with more violence than any gale. He didn't break quietly, it was like every atom of his being screamed in unison. He could feel himself unravelling, the threads of his being, all but a disarray of strings scattered about him. His upper body and shoulders wracked with every sob that forced its way out. His chest rose and fell unevenly as he gasped for breath. He squeezed his eyes shut, balling his hands into fists each time he threw his head back to let out a blood curdling scream.
And then Voldemort was there, holding him, kissing him, picking up the strings and disentangling them, weaving him anew with his warmth and the love he put in every brush of his lips, in every caress, in every touch, in every soft word that he uttered,
"I love you…I love you…I will always love you no matter what, Harry."
Harry closed his eyes and hugged him tight, trying to stop his tears, trying to control his sobs. Voldemort rubbed his back and whispered softly,
"Let it out. Let it all out. Do not hold it in, Harry."
So, he did. He cried until he ran out of tears and sobbed until his throat went dry. Voldemort held him through it all and kept whispering encouragements and soft praises. When he had quietened down completely, Voldemort held a glass of water to his lips and he drank it down in a single gulp. Once he felt relatively in control of his voice, he asked,
"Don't you have questions?"
Voldemort kissed his head and caressed his cheek as he murmured,
"I have countless questions."
Tears were flowing down Voldemort's pale cheeks and Harry raised his hand and wiped them away,
Voldemort shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut,
"I believe that I do not possess the strength or the bravery to hear the answers."
Harry cupped his cheek,
"Open your eyes and look at me."
Voldemort opened his eyes slowly and Harry held his pain filled crimson gaze as he spoke,
"I don't intend to die, Lover. I won't die. I'm looking for a way to best death and I will."
Voldemort held his gaze and Harry saw the pain being replaced with firm resolve. He leaned forward and rested his head on his shoulder and Voldemort's arm instantly wrapped around his waist,
"You are not alone anymore, Love. I will not allow death anywhere near you. We will get through this together."
Harry nuzzled his head in the crook of his neck and spoke,
"Yeah, I know."
After a few minutes of companionable silence as they both digested the truths they had learnt, Voldemort spoke,
"How long have you known?"
Harry hesitated before speaking,
"I found out about it when my second attempt at suicide failed and I wound up in the hospital."
Voldemort stroked his hair gently and then spoke softly,
"Tell me everything about your condition."
Harry exhaled before telling him everything he had learnt from his reports and everything he had researched. Voldemort listened silently and without any interruptions. He only spoke when Harry was done explaining,
"We will get through this. You're mine now, Harry. I won't let anyone take you away from including death."
He kissed his lips and Harry reciprocated just as hungrily. When they parted, Voldemort's eyes were glowing with rage and a wicked smirk curled his lips,
"And I will make Dumbledore pay dearly for what he did to you."
Harry grinned back and kissed him harder,
"I can't wait for that day."