My Royal Harlequin Plot Bunny had buggered off to Norfolk for a week! Bonzai has gone off somewhere, to America, I think, not really sure, Momo has hopped over to Portugal, and I can't talk to Spazo because her connection is down! [cries]
All my closest friends have abandonned me! Exceot for Puki of course, but she never comes online. This may be why this one shot is a little sadder than usual, but nevermind.
James Potter had absolutely no idea where he was.
He had only just disembarked from a train he had suddenly found himself on, and was now on a platform he did not recognise. The train was certainly not the Hogwarts Express, nor was it an underground train he had once had the misfortune to take a trip on with Lily. It was painted black, with frosted windows, and the smoke drifting out from it had a certain heaviness to it that James could not describe.
He was wearing travelling clothes, a cloak and a hat, as were the other people on the platform. There were quite a lot of them. They flocked out of the train towards carriages pulled by horses that were completely white, even their eyes and hooves. Everyone on the platform had a kind of smoky nature, and it was a second before James realised they had no colour. Their clothes, hair and even their faces were varying shades of grey and James wondered if he had any colour for them to see.
None of them had any luggage.
He tried hard to remember what he had been doing before he had boarded the train. Nothing came to him. All he could recall was a flash of green light, brighter than anything he'd ever seen.
As all the other passengers climbed into the carriages, James remained on the platform, never being one to conform. He had to find out where he was, he had to find out how had got here, and he had to find out why he had the most terrible feeling he'd left something important behind.
A whistle rang through his ears, and he turned to see the conductor strolling down the stretch of the train, sliding the doors shut as she went. Or what James could only assume was the conductor, because it was only a little girl, who looked no more than ten years old, wearing a smart grey uniform and a silver whistle on a chain around her neck. Her thin blonde hair ran down in two plaits behind her ears and reached down past her knees. On the back of her jacket, two tiny wings were stitched onto the grey material in white thread.
When the girl reached James, she looked him up and down after sliding the last door shut. To his left, the horses began to move away, one by one.
"Excuse me," James began, feeling a little ignorant.
"Lost?" asked the girl, looking up at him.
"I'm afraid so," James nodded. "Would you mind telling me where I am?"
"Not at all," the conductor said politely. "You are on the Platform."
"Which one?" asked James.
"What do you mean?"
"There is no number," the conductor replied, shaking her head slightly, "it's just . . . the platform. Like the Train is just the Train and the Carriages are just the Carriages."
"I see," replied James, although, he didn't, really. "And why are you here?"
"I'm here because there is a need for me," the conductor said simply.
"I'm more lost than before," he said hopelessly, "I don't understand where we are at all, and I feel as though I'm missing something, someone . . . I left her wherever I was before. She was very important." The conductor nodded.
"A lot of people feel like that," she said, sympathetically. "Don't worry, it'll come back to you soon, but the things is, the Train is one way. Not even magic can take you in the opposite direction." She gestured to a black, spindly bench a little way along the Platform.
"If you want to wait for her, then be my guest, the next train will be along in a moment" the girl said, "but you may be waiting for a long time. If she's not on the next train, I'd get on one of the carriages and wait for her to find you."
James walked over to the bench and sat down. He thought that a seat so spindly would have at least made some sort of noise in protest, but it was completely silent. He sighed. The suspicion had been creeping up on him for some time. After a moment, he said,
"I'm dead, aren't I?" She blinked and shrugged.
"On what?" She only regarded him for a moment, then sat down next to him on the bench.
"Look, Mister, not even I know where those carriages take you, but I hope to find out one day. Isn't it what most people wonder at some point in their lives? What happens to you when you die? You could say that you're dead, but I like to think that now is a time when it's interesting for you to be alive."
James took off his hat and closed his eyes, feeling a tear crawl down his cheek.
"I don't know what to think," he said. He had the odd feeling of being able to tell this little girl anything. "If she comes, it means she died as well, but I don't think I could do without her." He started to remember things about her, whoever she was. He remembered that he loved her dearly.
"If she's not coming, I'm sure it will hurt her much more than it hurts you," the conductor said sadly. "Just remember, you may not be seeing her as soon as you'd like, but you will see her again. I think you must have loved her very much. Not many people remember enough so soon to wait here."
James did not reply. There didn't seem to be anything to say. Instead, he looked at his surroundings.
The Platform seemed to be constructed mostly of white marble, with grey veins running through the pallid stone. Columns of marble were stationed at intervals in a row behind the bench. The carriages had run off into the distance behind them.
On the other side of the rail tracks, the same marble ran on for so far, James couldn't see the end of it. The ceiling was made of clear glass, between grey girders, through which the soft light filtered, plain and uniform. Perhaps because of the lack of colour, the entire place had a kind of . . . temporary feel to it.
There was something else also. James felt the scene had been . . . rushed. When he averted his eyes from certain things, like the grey gravel between the tracks for instance, if he subtly regarded it out of the corner of his eye, it didn't seem to have as much detail as when he we staring straight at it. When his eyes flicked to a column, he saw the grey veins focus sharply as if to whisper 'Smarten up! Quick! Someone's looking!'
The conductor hopped off the bench as James begun to hear the noises of the hooves in the distance. The chain of carriages got closer and closer until it eventually stopped in its former position behind the columns. Once the noise from the carriages subsided, James turned back to spot the same train making it's way towards the platform. If only he could remember where he had been before.
Slowly the engine came to a stop. Behind the windows, grey shapes moved towards the doors. James's eyes caught on something red.
As the doors slid back, the girl in front of him stepped off. While all the other passengers were still colourless, all he could see was her crimson hair and her bottle green eyes.
As stood up shakily, the ice freezing his memory cracked, and the flood of memories begun to push through the barrier. He remembered everything . . . her name, her personality, her quirks that only a husband would know, their time at Hogwarts, their time after Hogwarts, their wedding, their son . . .
Evans! . . . Hey, EVANS! . . . I wouldn't go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid . . . One chance, Potter, that's all . . . Stripy socks really irritate me . . . And now, a toast from the best man! . . . James didn't really make the best impression when he first spoke to Lily . . . He has your eyes . . . What should we call him, James? . . . James?
"James?" she asked.
She'd seen him, and before she could say anything else, he'd darted from the bench so fast, he ran straight into someone. The odd thing was, he passed straight through them as if they were only a wisp of magic. He couldn't even feel them. Others crossed through him as he ran, and he had a brief worry that the same thing would happen when he reached her.
They collided in an embrace and he felt her in his arms. She was reassuringly warm, she smelt reassuringly of perfume, her hair was reassuringly soft . . . she was just reassuringly there.
"You're here," he said quietly, his cheek wet against the top of her head.
"Yeah," she replied simply, sniffing against his neck. James's voice cracked.
"What a shame we had to leave," he said.
"Shhh," Lily said against his tears, "shhh, it'll be alright. He'll be alright. You'll see . . ."
Passengers made their way around them in a bustle of travel, the conductor's whistle sounded, but James barely heard it. He only continued to rock from side to side with his wife, hold on for dear life . . . or death.
As the conductor passed by them, sliding the door shut, the girl smiled at them and her words came back to James.
"We may not be seeing him as soon as we'd like, but we will see him." He felt Lily smile against his shoulder. "He'll be old by then, and he'll have a family of his own to leave behind."
"I hope so," Lily said, and she wiped her own eyes with her sleeve.
They were the last to walk toward the carriages. The conductor was still smiling, and James smiled slowly back. As he held out a hand to help Lily up the single step, she didn't let go of it when they were both sat in the back and the door was shut.
As their finger laced, James felt the old, characteristic spark in his heart, and despite having died, he felt more alive than ever.