A/N 31-07-14: Surprise! It was going to be difficult to upload tomorrow, so I decided to do it a day early. Plus, I just couldn't wait to start Book Two with you all. So here we go, Tread On My Dreams! I hope you enjoy, as always please favourite and review if you do. I especially like to know what you think of the first chapter :-) The book covers are coming along quite well now, check out my Twitter if you'd like to see them at HelenJHaslam and if you've got any questions please feel free to ask.
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who read To Dwell On Dreams, it was a pleasure sharing my story with you and I hope you continue with me and Harry through Books Two and Three. There's so much more to come!
A/N 13-01-15: For even more information, trivia, and general fun stuff on the trilogy, you can now also find us on Facebook! Search for The HP Dream Trilogy or /thehpdreamtrilogy to connect with other fans as well as me, the author, directly. There's loads of extra titbits you won't find anywhere else, so come join us :-D
Land Of Confusion
I must have dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They're moving into the street
Now did you read the news today?
They say the danger's gone away
But I can see the fire's still alight
There burning into the night
There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go around
Can't you see this is the land of confusion?
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in
The frozen landscape stretched out as far as the eye could see. Bluish light reflected blindingly from the untouched snow, and the low hanging sun's golden glare melted the line of the horizon into one, long quivering blur. Ice clouds whirled in fits and spurts, and the wind howled like a wounded beast nursing its pride.
A lone figure trudged across the plane, blotting the otherwise perfect whiteness. He was wrestling with a crude sort of sledge being pulled by two large creatures that looked like spiders with tennis racquets for feet. The rider was attempting to direct them by hurling raw chunks of meat in the direction he wanted them to head, but in their hast to gobble up the food they seemed more prone to tripping each other over, rather than accomplishing any great speed. A sigh drifted across the snow dunes.
The rider, clad in furs and leather like an Inuit, had been travelling for many hours as the sun rose high then low in the sky. The sledge had turned itself over several times, and the spiders had insisted on stopping for a snooze only hours into their trek, leaving the lonely rider no choice but to huddle down and sip hot tea from a flask, attempting to dunk chocolate digestives in it as he did.
But as the sun began to set, turning the horizon several spectacular shades of orange, a cliff face appeared in the distance. The rider let out a cry of joy, punching the air with a thickly gloved hand, and spurred his beasts on with half a dozen greenish looking steaks that they chased after with a renewed sense of frenzy.
A crescent moon was peeking through the twilight as the sledge finally skidded to a halt amidst a shower of snow and ice. The rider turned to his spiders who looked exceedingly pleased with themselves as they panted and shook snow from their racquet-like feet.
"Stay!" commanded the rider, and both the creatures plonked themselves down on the snow and looked up at him expectantly. "Good boys," said the rider, hands still held up uncertainly at his pets. "Now...just wait here for daddy."
The one on the left scratched the back of its head with one of its feet. The one on the right belched.
"Good boys," muttered the rider as he crept away from them, then turned his attention to the cliff face.
It didn't take him long to find the entrance to the cave, it was rather large after all and the heat emanating from it had melted all the surrounding snow into muddy puddles. "Yahtzee," he whispered triumphantly, yanking his coat off and dropping it to the ground as he ventured down the tunnel.
A fiery glow was pulsing from where the cave veered around to the left, and it wasn't until he was almost at the end could Alex the Watcher see what was causing it.
"Hallo there!" he cried out cheerfully with a wave. A tingling sensation was crawling its way pleasantly up through his pirate boots, giving life back to his horribly numb feet. "I was wondering if I could trouble you for some help?"
A small, fat dragon, almost no bigger than a toddler, sat on his hind legs atop a staggering pile of treasure. His crimson scales reflected off of the thousands of coins, gems, fine jewellery and precious relics he was nestled comfortably in as he counted notes of a currency Alex had never seen before. At his entrance, the dragon's cobalt blue eyes slowly slid up to regard him.
"Go. Away." His voice was high pitched and nasally, but the fact he had a voice at all startled Alex mute for a moment as the creature shifted its eyes back down to the money in its hands.
"Ah, you're one of those dragons," said Alex, recovering himself and clapping his hands together. "Excellent, this should all go much smoother then."
The dragon sighed and did not look up this time. "Go away or I will burn you to a crisp."
"Oh there's no need for that," replied Alex, skipping forward. "Plus I'm already dead, and I really like this jacket." He tugged at the lapels of his tailcoat and came to a halt at the bottom of the treasure mountain. "Now, do you have a name?" he asked, craning his head to address the increasingly irritable dragon. "Or shall I call you Puff?"
The dragon slammed his notes down, causing a small avalanche of golden coins. "Do you see any other dragons in this plane? This is my world, mine. Why would I need a name if there's no one else?"
"Puff it is then," said Alex with a click of his fingers. "I wanted to ask you about that Puff, why are you all alone, who do you watch telly with? Do you build a lot of snow dragons to keep you company?"
The dragon, now named Puff, crossed his stubby arms over his fat tummy. "You are far more annoying than the knights and thieves I normally have to eat." He looked Alex up and down. "You're all scrawny though," he whined. "You're not going to fill me up at all."
Alex half smiled. "I am neither a knight nor a thief, sir. I do however have a little proposition for you if you'd be willing to hear me out."
"No," spat Puff.
"Fabulous," said Alex. "Now, I couldn't help but notice that you like shiny things, would you say that's accurate?"
"You can't have it," growled Puff, smoke curling from around his sharp teeth. "I found it, I had to go all the way into all those worlds, it's all mine, mine!"
Alex held his hands up apologetically. "I didn't mean to offend you, I was just complimenting your hobby, I assure you. You truly have a magnificent collection."
Puff wiggled his bottom further into his mound of riches, sending more coins and jewels tricking down. "Thank you," he said begrudgingly in his squeaky voice.
"How many realities have you visited to accomplish it?"
"Three hundred and forty two," said Puff smugly. "I find the little cracks and I sneak in to get the goodies!"
"That is very impressive," said Alex solemnly, nodding his head appreciatively.
"You still can't have anything," snapped Puff, spiteful once more. "Eons I've been here, and not once has anyone ever stolen from me."
"I promise you," said Alex patiently. "I am not going to try and rob you, I would be a fool to, you would char grill and chomp me down before I even stood a chance of escaping."
Puff narrowed his eyes at the flattery. "Hmph," he said.
"What I propose is this," said Alex. He had been so dreadfully cold out in the snow, but now he was dripping with perspiration, his clothes plastered to his body by the heat of the dragon's lair. Therefore, old Puff didn't notice when he broke into a fresh sweat as he launched into his negotiation.
"I would like to simply borrow-"
He didn't even get the word out, Puff leapt to his tiny little legs and roared so deafeningly Alex jumped backwards several feet, which was lucky as Puff also let loose a torrent of fiery breath as well.
"NO ONE. STEALS FROM ME!"
"Borrow!" yelped Alex. "I said borrow! I would bring it back as soon as I was done, and in return I would give you an extremely rare treasure, a prize you could not hope to find by yourself."
At that, Puff quietened instantly, sitting himself back down on his riches. "How rare?"
"Very," said Alex, trying not to show how palatable his relief was. "And like I said, not something you could find yourself, it's not from any reality."
Puff seemed to consider this a moment. "Then it's...from somewhere in between, like we are?"
Alex nodded, watching carefully as the dragon mulled this over. "Limbo holds no valuables, otherwise I would have found them already."
Alex reached into his skinny jeans, and pulled out a single nugget of green light. Puff went very still atop his mountain. "What's that?" he breathed, his cobalt eyes wide with hunger.
"Potential," said Alex, trying to keep his chest rising and falling at a normal rate. It was hot enough in here, he didn't want to pass out from hyperventilation and leave himself lying around like an hors d'oeuvre for Puff to munch on.
"It looks sparkly," said Puff wistfully, climbing down his mound of wealth on all fours. And he did, the green light shone brightly from between Alex's fingers, glittering like mirror ball.
"Only a Watcher could get this for you," he continued as Puff crept closer. "It's potential energy, from possibilities that almost came into existence, but didn't quite manage it."
"And it's pretty," cooed the dragon, who was almost at the bottom of the treasure heap. He reached a clawed hand forwards, and that was when Alex snatched his arm away, curling his fingers over the light.
"I have a whole box full of them, all for you," said Alex hastily as Puff started to growl crossly. "But I must have what I need first."
Puff grinned showing far too many sharp teeth for Alex's liking. "And what's to stop me just killing you and taking them all anyway."
"They're not here," replied Alex. He'd thought of this possibility whilst he was making his way through his packet of digestives. "They're buried somewhere in the snow, and you'll never find them on your own."
"Who says I won't?" argued the dragon petulantly, but Alex could see he believed him.
"You go get what I want, and I swear on all your riches I will retrieve the rest of these at once, and return your possession to you as soon as it in my power to do so. Do we have a deal?"
Puff, crouched in the last several feet of his mountain, stared directly into Alex's eyes for a moment. Then he reached out his stubby little hand.
Alex waited patiently whilst Puff rooted round amongst his hoard for the particular item he wanted from him. Once he found it, and showed it to Alex as proof, he hung it around his neck until he had the rest of his payment. The little dragon didn't need to don any outdoor wear as his body temperature was so scaldingly hot, but he did insist on fetching an 'ancient travelling talisman' that looked an awful lot to Alex like a teddy bear.
Puff seemed wary of venturing outside into the snow, Alex guessed he didn't do it very often, and when he caught sight of the two spider beasts he roared out a mouthful of flames at them. Luckily the spiders were fire-proof, one of the reasons Alex had chosen them, and they just stared at Puff with a confused expression as the snow around them melted.
"Shall we?" asked Alex when he was quite done. Puff grumbled under his breath, but clambered up onto the sledge without anymore bother. After he'd retrieved his coat, Alex had to pile snow onto his side for several minutes to cool the metal down from Puff's outburst. Once he was happy he wouldn't get third degree burns he too sat on the sleigh, chunks of meat in hand for the spiders' encouragement, and they were off.
They didn't need a torch with Puff's fiery snout on board to guide them, and the millions of stars overhead gave the snowy landscape a luminous glow. But Alex was still a little nervous the spiders would be able to find their way back in the dark to the spot where they'd had their snooze and Alex had buried his box. That was until he saw the torches.
He frowned at the spots of light as they sprung up in the distance. They had been journeying for hours now, on top of the trek they'd made this morning, and he wasn't sure if his tired eyes were playing tricks on him. But there they were, little blossoms of light, gradually getting bigger and bigger. And so was the figure waiting to great them.
"I knew you'd get hopelessly lost without me," he cried as they made their approach. "So I thought I'd make myself useful!"
Seamus Finnigan was waving and grinning as the spiders skidded to a halt and tripped over themselves to leap up and great the new Watcher. He laughed as they jumped up around him, all their feet wiggling.
"I was doing just fine," said Alex with mock scorn as he descended from the sledge. "Haven't you got a reality to look after?"
"I'm pretty sure that's what we're doing here," said Seamus with a wink. He had chosen the latest in Gore Tex for his arctic parker in contrast to Alex's furs, and was sporting some very high tech looking goggles that were presently perched on top of his forehead. There were a dozen or so LED lamps shoved into the snow in a circle around the spot Alex was pretty sure he'd dug his hole earlier, and parked a little way away was a bright red, very shiny snowmobile.
"Show off," said Alex with half a grin.
"Who," said Puff loudly. "Is he!" He was crouched ready to spring on the sleigh, his blue eyes blazing and his teeth all glowing like red hot embers. He didn't look too happy to see Seamus.
"Ah!" said Alex happily. "Seamus, this is my new friend Puff, Puff this is my not-so-new associate, neighbour and paintballing partner, Seamus Finnigan."
"My name is not Puff," huffed the red dragon. "Where are my goodies?"
Alex walked up to Seamus' side. "Cheerful little beggar," quipped the young Irish boy as he did. But Alex's eyes were on the ground, searching for where his tupperware box was hidden. "Oh, are you looking for this?"
Alex glanced up. It seemed as well having state of the art heat-retaining technology, Seamus' parker also had very good pockets. He waggled the tupperware now in his hand at Alex, the green nuggets of potential energy rattling around inside. Alex plucked it from his fingers and lightly cuffed him round the head through his huge squishy hat. "Give me that before you break something," he muttered. Seamus just grinned broader.
"Puff!" Alex called out to the dragon still crouched on the sleigh. "Here are your treasures, nineteen more to add to this one." He pulled the original jewel of potential from his pocket again. "All yours."
Puff's stubby tail swished back and forth as his brilliant eyes narrowed. Slowly, he crept off the sledge, and stalked forward warily on all fours, his feet melting puddles of snow as he went. Alex popped the lid off the box, dropped the twentieth nugget in and clipped the sides closed again. Puff stopped a couple of feet away and sniffed the air. Alex held the tupperware out towards him, and shook it again for good measure.
As quick as lightning, Puff darted forward, snatched the box and was back in his spot a few feet away. Alex looked at his now empty hand, closed it, then shrugged as much as he could in his massive coat. "Marvellous," he said, then turned and raised his eyebrows at Seamus. The boy held out his hands in a don't-ask-me-this-is-your-new-friend gesture, so Alex sighed and turned back to see Puff fastidiously counting the nuggets.
"Marvellous," repeated Alex, clapping his hands together. "So I take it you're-"
"I'm counting," snarled Puff, not even looking up. Alex sighed. Once Puff had checked three times that there were indeed twenty sparkling gems, he sealed the box with a satisfied smirk. "I like these very much, if I let you borrow the amulet, will you get me more?"
Alex raised a snow covered eyebrow. "If it does what it's supposed to, I will personally get you five more."
"Ten," declared Puff instantly.
"Six," countered Alex.
"Seven," said Alex raising a finger. "And I'll throw in a first edition, signed copy of the White Album."
"Done!" cried Puff, a triumphant grin on his face. Alex tried to hide his own grin as he leaned forward to shake the dragon's clawed hand again. He actually had two of those records.
"I don't really see why I should give you my amulet though," said Puff slyly. "I could just burn up your Irish friend here and make you-"
The spider landed on top of Puff before he even had a chance to look up. Its eight legs wrapped around the dragon's body like a cage, and Puff shrieked and spat out flames. "Let me out, let me out or I'll eat you all!" he squalled.
Seamus cleared his throat. Puff stopped struggling against the spider immediately, as in one of Seamus' hands was Puff's teddy bear from where he'd left it on the sleigh. In the other was a wicked looking ice pick. "Now," said Seamus pleasantly. "There's no reason for anyone to get hurt, is there?"
Puff didn't say a word, he just reached around his neck and pulled off a silver pendant with a purple stone hanging from it, suspended in a lose cocoon of fine silvery thread.
Alex felt a huge weight lift off of his shoulders. "Marvellous," he breathed with a sigh of relief, taking the amulet from between the spiders' legs. "Now, if we're quite done here, I'd say it's about time to go save all of existence, wouldn't you agree Seamus."
Seamus threw the teddy bear to Puff, who snatched it from the air as the spider opened out its legs, and hugged it to his fat belly.
"I couldn't agree more," said Seamus.