AN: So I went and fell into the Walking Dead fandom after watching all four seasons in one week, and then reading fanfiction ferociously. And since on Wednesday I have this huge presentation I have to prepare for, what better way to go about it than writing fanfiction? Yes, I know, I'm hopeless.
Category: slight crossover with Harry Potter, but can be read as pure Walking Dead.
Rating: T ;
Warning: canon level violence and gore (just a tiny bit), and the author's poor attempts at trying her hand with Daryl's way of speaking. Please don't shoot me! Also written and posted immediately, before I changed my mind.
The house looked largely untouched, which was probably both a blessing and a curse. A house not ransacked usually was crawling with walkers, but they also had the chance of finding more supplies in it. They had no choice, they had to risk it.
Rick moved slowly, trying to make no sound while approaching the steps. On his right, Daryl prepared his crossbow, body tense and ready to run inside, while behind them Glenn was gripping his baseball bat with white-knuckled fingers. Rick risked a glance behind him, catching the sight of his son gripping his gun like a lifeline. Carl looked too nervous for Rick's peace of mind, but this wasn't the first house they had cleared that day. So far, nothing had gone wrong.
One, two, three, he counted in his head, took a deep breath and then pushed the door open, gun ready in front of him. Immediately his group, took point near him, then moved silently from one room to another. They cleared the floor, strangely founding no walkers. Yet, just when Rick took one stair the tell-tale sound of a cocking gun froze him. Up there, behind the banister, a man had his gun aimed at his group, twitchy finger ready to fire.
"Whoa," said Glenn stopping in his tracks just as Daryl came from a nearby room and aimed his crossbow immediately at the newest threat.
They were at a standstill, neither part willing to back down, with the stranger never taking his gun from Rick's direction.
"Lads, I'm afraid this house is taken," the stranger spoke softly, British accent coming as a shock to those below him.
"Look, you don't have to do this," said Rick while trying to sound as placating as possible. He was well aware that he, and his group looked like death warmed over after the latest run with a herd, and thus very unlikely to inspire confidence, but they were all very tired. They needed this house, everyone in the group dead on their feet.
And especially Lori. His estranged, heavily pregnant wife, Lori.
There was no other shelter for miles. He knew; they checked.
The stranger snorted briefly, probably knowing that. "And what do you propose?" he asked, somewhat mockingly. "Also, tell your man to lower his crossbow unless you want me to start firing."
"Share. We want to share the house. You can have the floor and we'll take the ground."
The stranger stood silent for a moment, never lowering his gun. "How many are there in your group?"
Rick bit his lip, trying to find the right answer. It sat badly with him to give that kind of information, but the stranger was going to find out anyway. Unless they killed him first, as a tense Daryl on his right was itching to do. The hunter had lowered the bow slightly, at Rick's short head-shake, but Rick had never seen anyone aim and fire more quickly, if needed to be. No, Rick had perfect confidence in his right-hand man.
"Ten," he stopped and swallowed, "we…" but never got the chance to speak when with a frightened "Daad!" Carl burst into the hall and collided with Daryl, while going backwards. Behind him, a powerful growl had the hunter scrambling up and ready to fire when from above the stranger commanded. "Stop!"
He hadn't yelled, yet the word had reverberated through the house and at once the growling ceased, and an enormous black dog emerged from the shadows.
"You have children, with you. Why the bloody hell you didn't say that?" The stranger asked Rick with such exasperation in his tone; Rick was thrown. However, more telling was the dropping of his gun, no longer pointing at Rick's head.
"What's that thing?" Daryl muttered, looking ready to shoot, while the dog watched them all with eerie grey eyes, almost luminous in the fading light.
"My dog, Sirius." The stranger said, voice calm, then he addressed Rick.
"You can take the house," he said as he started to descend the stairs. "At one condition."
"Name it." Rick said, not committing to anything.
"I leave with my dog, and you don't put a bullet in my back when I'm out." The stranger had stopped moving and was now, two stairs up, looking Rick directly in the eyes. Only then did Rick realize just how young and emaciated the stranger looked. Something, perhaps a dreg of pity stirred in his hardened heart. He might not share his supplies with the stranger, but he could still not send him out there in the encroaching night while walkers roamed the surrounding forest and there was no other house for miles.
"Or you could accept my earlier offer and take the upstairs part, while me and my group sleep here." Rick said his counteroffer. Beside him, Daryl scoffed, but had more sense than to correct him in front of the stranger. Glenn, however, looked ready to bolt, shooting glances from Rick to the stranger, but kept his mouth shut and Carl just seemed confused by it all and maybe a bit uncomfortable by the big dog only a few feet away from him. Rick too, was worried, the beast taller than his boy was, but for one, the dog was calm and quiet watching over all with disturbingly intelligent eyes. And Rick had the certainty then and there that it was no ordinary beast.
And the stranger had yet to answer him, looking at Rick with guarded eyes that hid too much for the sheriff's comfort.
"Alright," he eventually nodded and then turned slightly as if to climb the stairs again. "But my condition still stands. Nobody shoots at me or my dog." And with it he started to climb the stairs. Immediately the dog moved, agile and silent, not touching any of them despite the crowded space, and then it bounded up the stairs and stopped at the top to wait for its master.
"Why would we want to do that?" Glenn asked, only half sarcastic.
"You'd be surprised," the stranger answered from top the stairs. "Some think he should be food, but for most he took exception when they were trying to go through my things." And with that parting shot the man entered a room and softly shut the door behind him leaving Rick and his group to wonder what the hell exactly happened.
In didn't take long for the rest of the group to filter inside the house, their sighs of relief quickly quelled when they took a look at the men's faces. None of them looked happy, but not quite on the edge and Hershel 's eyebrow shot to his hairline when Rick told him what had happened.
"You are sure that was wise?" he asked Rick, voice soft that it didn't carry off the women and children gathered around a flimsy fire. He had hunted down Rick as soon as possible and then got the whole story from the man.
"It just seems like the right call at the moment," Rick acknowledged, voice soft from fatigue. He was as tired as he looked and Hershel almost felt sorry for pressing the matter when the man clearly needed to go to sleep. "I'll put T-Dog on first watch and take over him in a couple of hours."
Hershel nodded and let it be. Strangely, he still trusted Rick, even when it was visible for all that the man was slowly crumbling under the responsibility. But it would have to do for now. No one was in better shape.
Rick spent the night tossing and turning, too exhausted to sleep, but also not awake enough to do anything else. From upstairs there was no sign all that time, and if it weren't for the closed door, Rick could have forgotten that they shared the house with anyone else.
It was almost morning when Daryl stirred under his poncho and then jumped awake seeing the man from last night immobile near the front door, big black dog glued to the hip.
"I'm going now," he said softly, as if not to stir the still sleeping members of the group, and when Daryl just relaxed slowly he moved silently and was out of the door in an instant. Daryl covered his mouth with is hand, indecisive whether to go after the stranger or to go wake Rick, when Rick's soft voice came from a shadowed corner. "Let him go."
"Ya sure that's wise?" Daryl asked, but lowered his crossbow. he hadn't noticed that he had it ready to fire.
"I've been watching him ever since I saw him leave the room. He didn't do anything threatening."
Daryl relaxed a bit, then he gathered some scattered arrows and he too moved to the door. "I'm going hunting. Any preference?" he smirked towards Rick, who smiled weakly. "I don't know. How about squirrels?"
With a nod, the hunter was out and Rick was left to quietly contemplate his group and the best move for them. By the time Daryl had moved outside, there was no sign of the stranger, not even tracks. Impressed, despite himself, Darryl prepared his crossbow and went into the woods. He had some rodents to find.
"We have got to stop meeting like this," said a soft voice behind him while the unmistakable shape of a shotgun prodded him at the head. Rick slowly raised his hands and then pivoted until he was looking his captor in the eyes. Yep, same kid with the huge black dog, dirty clothes and too old eyes. Then again, they all had too old eyes nowadays.
"Unless you're going to shoot me, I suggest pointing that gun somewhere else," he replied, letting his hands fall, and the kid gave him a rueful grin. "So, same arrangement as the other time?" the stranger asked, looking at the room they were in, but never completely taking his eyes off Rick.
Rick almost nodded, then he grimaced remembering that the shack only had one floor. The roof had looked caved in from outside, but it was still better than camping in their cars. Again. The fuel was getting dangerously low, and the night was too cold to go without a fire.
"Tell you what." He said eyeing the stranger and making a decision he prayed didn't doom them all. "You can take a corner of the room, and we'll take the rest, as long as you never let your dog come too close to my people."
"And nobody gets shot?"
"And nobody gets shot." Rick agreed.
"Fine by me," replied the stranger and then went and settled against the north corner, where a pile of rags was already spread across the floor. For the first time since seeing him again, Rick wondered if the kind was following them, then dismissed the thought as paranoia. After all, they had stumbled upon him, both times.
One more thing was left to do before calling his people in the big room that will shelter them for the night. "Hey kid, what's your name? Mine's Rick." He said, not moving from the door. The stranger didn't answer while he was busy arranging his rags into something more comfortable and then with a sigh he settled on the floor, shoulders leaning against his sitting down dog. "It's Harry," he said eventually, and then settled and pretended to fall asleep, curled around his dog.
Rick nodded, knowing that despite all pretenses, Harry was still observing him and then got out to gather his family, plans half-formed in his mind.
If they were surprised to see another person in the living room while they came burdened with their packs, none commented too much, one look at Rick's 'I'll explain later' face stopping them from questioning it aloud. Only Daryl muttered a "Son of'bitch" and then chose the corner that put him somewhat between the stranger and the rest of the group, crossbow resting deceitfully on his elbow.
Once they were more or less settled, Rick cleared his voice and got all of their attention. "Everyone, that is in the corner is Harry and his dog, Sirius. Don't bother him and he won't bother us. Understand?"
Most of the adults just nodded or shrugged. Glenn kept sending furtive glances in the corner, while the Carl and Beth kept peering at the stranger with curiosity. For his part, Harry didn't say anything, or acknowledge them in any form, but Sirius perked his head at the use of its name, tail thumping once against the wall, then he settled down once again against its master. Other than that, their corner was completely silent for the rest of the night. Rick would know; he was up even when he knew he should have been asleep, but he also knew that he wasn't the only one doing that. From the quiet shuffling from Daryl's corner, it was clear that the hunter hadn't slept a wink as well.
When the morning came, bright and early and completely unsuited for the Apocalypse or maybe just for Rick's tired eyes, Harry rose from his corner, gathered his things in complete silence and with careful moves maneuvered into the room until he was at the door.
"Going to meet you group?" Rick asked, eyes half opened and hand resting on his holster.
Harry just threw him one loaded look, as if telling him 'I know what you are doing, so you can stop', but eventually answered, hand already on the door. "I don't have one." He then almost opened the door, when Sirius gave a low growl, body suddenly alert, ears pointed at the door. The change in Harry was immediate, crouching down, with wicked daggers suddenly in his hands.
"What is it?" Rick whispered harshly, gun out in one hand while in the other, he took his knife. With the corner of his eye, he spied Daryl, awake and tense, waiting for his signal, T-Dog still fighting with sleep but waking up and Glenn looking just dazed.
"The undead, coming in this direction from the woods. Small group, maybe ten, fifteen."
"You saw all that?" Rick asked, impressed despite himself while around him, the group awoke, keen survival instincts telling them something was happening.
"No, Sirius told me." Came the reply that gathered more than a few raised eyebrows.
"Ya speakin'dog now?" Daryl drawled while taking point at one of the windows overlooking the front porch. He raised his head and then ducked immediately.
"No, I just know him really well." Harry answered gripping the daggers more tightly.
"Daryl?" Rick asked, while around him, his people gathered their things as quietly and quickly as possible.
"He's right, no more than fifteen geeks out there, but they're coming between the cars."
"If they don't sense us, maybe they will go away." Glen whispered from somewhere behind Rick, while Maggie just gripped her riffle. Everyone else had taken some position, ready to sprint for the cars. They had done this more times than anyone wanted to remember, and Rick was somewhat proud that he didn't have to tell them what to do.
They stood in silence, body brimming with tension and fear for an eternity, or more exactly fifteen minutes, until the small herd weaved their slow path around the parked cars, some walkers mouthing at the windshields before giving up, as if chasing some elusive scent, and then they flitted away. All of them waited some more, but it looked like the danger had passed. Slowly, releasing some of the tension that they all carried, they started to move to the door when with a loud snap, a cord broke and everything it was holding together fell down with a deafening clatter. They turned as one, seeing Beth with a stricken face while she mouthed "sorry", when with a loud crash a large window to their right fell to pieces as walkers, attracted by the noise, started to pour in. And as soon as they smelled the humans they got more frenzied, to the point everyone knew they had to run.
"To the cars!" Rick yelled and then yanked the front door open and almost smacked himself with a walker's outstretched hand. He ducked below; moving his hand automatically to stab the walker in the head, when something whooshed by his ear and with a wet plop a second walker fell down never to rise again. Beside him, Daryl ran, snatched his arrow and stabbed a third walker while gunshots suddenly broke the morning silence as the group ran for safety. Rick got into his car, started the ignition, frantically counting all from his group as they climbed into cars and only when they started to roll, he saw Harry running on foot towards the forest, Sirius at his heels. One walker got in his path only to be dispatched with efficient ease, dagger in and out its eye in an instant, and the boy continued running.
It was then that Rick took the decision that one day would save them all. He stopped the car near the still running Harry and opened the door.
AN: I have no plans at the moment for writing more on it, since I have too many writing projects that need to be done. But maybe, if enough people show an interest, who knows? The bunnies are there. Until then I hoped that you enjoyed it as small as it is!