Title: The Waiting Room

Author: TardisIsTheOnlyWaytoTravel

Pairings: None

Setting:

Harry and Voldemort find themselves in what appears to be a doctor's waiting room… AU, roughly follows events up until 5th book…

Author notes:

This is a bit silly, but bear with me. It started out as a rather pointless dream…

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THE WAITING ROOM

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It could have been a waiting room for any doctor's surgery on the planet: large, white, and inexpensively carpeted. Small coffee tables, covered in a selection of magazines, lurked near the edges of the room, while the walls were lined with sturdy plastic chairs. The people in these chairs were quiet, listless, and for the most part faintly bewildered, as though they weren't quite sure what they were doing there or why. An unattended receptionist's desk sat at the front of the room; close by were several doors. Yes, it looked like any ordinary waiting room.

-

The silence was broken abruptly when two figures found themselves suddenly sprawled on the waiting room floor. As one they groaned; instantly their eyes shot open, emerald green and brilliant red, and they scrambled to their feet even as they searched for the source of the other groan. In unison:

"You!"

Both went for their wand, only to discover that they had arrived in their current location strangely under-equipped.

"What did you do with my wand?" Harry spat.

"I haven't got your wand!" retorted his nemesis, just as accusingly. "I haven't got mine either!"

The two stood glaring at each other, red meeting green, each suspecting the other of foul play. After a moment Harry frowned suddenly and looked around, noticing his surroundings for the first time. The other followed suit, and their immediate anger melted away in the face of a more pressing concern.

"Where are we?" Harry asked, frowning at the apathetic people in front of him.

"I haven't the slightest idea." Voldemort glanced around sharply. "I don't remember coming here, do you?"

"No," Harry replied. There was a moment's silence and the two enemies unconsciously moved closer to each other, momentarily united against a possible, as yet unknown threat.

Harry cleared his throat.

"Did you know, that, um, you're looking rather… normal all of a sudden?"

"What?"

"Well, apart from the eyes, you look all Tom-Riddle-ish again."

Voldemort ran a hand over his head and face; sure enough, he had a head full of hair and all the usual facial features.

There was a definite feeling of unease now. With an unaccountable feeling of dread Harry reached out to tap a little old lady on the shoulder.

"Excuse me, but do you happen to know where we are?"

The elderly woman beamed up at him with an oddly vacant expression, clearly delighted to have someone to talk to.

"Oh, yes, dear," she assured him. "You're in the waiting room."

"Waiting room for what?" Voldemort demanded. Her cheerful expression faltered; her brow knitted in uncertainty.

"You know, now that you mention it, I can't quite remember." She looked rather disturbed before her natural equilibrium restored itself. "Never mind, young man, I'm sure you can ask the nice young lady when she comes back."

"What nice young lady?" Harry asked; but she was staring into space again and didn't seem to hear him.

-

Harry gave up and turned back to the Dark Lord.

"I don't like this. Everything's off, somehow."

"You have a wonderful mastery of the obvious," Voldemort said sarcastically. "We turn up without our wands, with no memory of how we got here or why; the place is deserted apart from a small group of individuals with little interest or awareness of their surroundings, and even less of an idea of what is going on than we do. Yes, Potter I would say that everything is most definitely off!"

"Can I help you?"

They both jumped at the sound of the voice, whirling to find themselves facing a young woman with a clipboard, smiling politely at them. Voldemort and Harry stared at her.

"Can I help you?" she asked again.

"Yes, you can!" Voldemort said angrily. "Where are we?"

Pale eyes blinked at him.

"You're in the Waiting Room," the girl replied as though the answer were obvious. Voldemort closed his eyes and ground his teeth, clearly restraining his temper. As he did so the girl pulled a pen from behind one ear and ran it down the sheet attached to her clipboard, clearly reading some kind of list.

"Harry James Potter and Tom Marvolo Riddle, am I right? Well, that explains it."

"Explains what?" Harry demanded. The girl blinked again, eyes widening in surprise.

"Why, you really don't know, do you?" She patted his arm sympathetically. "You're in Limbo, sweetie. I'm afraid that you two boys are dead. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go take care of a coma case in Wollengalla. Your case is going to take a little longer to sort out, so if you'll just sit down I'll be back in a little while."

At the word 'dead', both men had lapsed into a stunned silence. As she turned to go, however, Voldemort pulled himself together.

-

"I can't be dead!" he bellowed. "I'm immortal!"

The woman gave him a condescending smile.

"I'm afraid not, Mr Riddle. Mr Potter here got to most of your Horcruxes. Besides they were never a guarantee of immortality – only of a postponement of death."

"Most?" Voldemort repeated sharply, just as Harry said, "what do you mean, our case is going to take a while to sort out?"

Sighing, the girl tucked her pen back behind her ear and prepared to explain.

"You both understand the theory of how Horcruxes are made, correct? That when a particular spell is used beforehand, the murder of another using the Killing Curse allows the caster to split his soul into two parts, and place the disconnected part in an object nearby." Harry and Voldemort nodded impatiently. Both were quite familiar with how the process worked. ""Well, this is where it gets difficult. On the thirty-first of October 1981, you, Mr Riddle, completed the first stage of the Horcrux ritual, intending to use the murder of Mr Potter to create yet another Horcrux for yourself."

Voldemort paled.

"Oh shit." Apparently he had some understanding of where this was going. Harry, however, was still completely lost.

"Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan. You executed the Avada Kedavra successfully, tearing loose a fragment of soul; but before you could house it, the spell rebounded upon you, killing you and forcing one of your other, completed Horcruxes to activate – a goblet, I believe. Without direction, your soul fragment was left floating around with nowhere to go; therefore it was drawn to the nearest fellow-soul, which happened to belong to Mr Potter. As a result of these irregular proceedings, Mr Potter became a Horcrux."

"A …what?" Harry squeaked. "You must be… joking…"

Thump.

-

Voldemort rolled his eyes and prodded Harry with his foot, bringing him back to consciousness.

"Now is not the time for fainting!" he snapped, while Harry groaned and flung one arm over his eyes.

"All very well for you," Harry muttered groggily. He didn't feel too good.

The girl continued her story.

"Humans are not meant to be Horcruxes, however, as they already have a soul. When Mr Potter became a Horcrux his native soul and the soul fragment inside him had difficulty co-operating, battling each other for dominance. In the end, they were forced to reach a compromise. They …bonded."

"What?"

Harry watched in some satisfaction as Voldemort's eyes went back in his head and he went down like a felled tree. Resignedly the girl waited for him to regain consciousness. After a few minutes Voldemort came to, feeling just as bad as Harry had a few minutes earlier.

"When the two of you were battling earlier today," both Voldemort and Harry looked equally unwell now, "you each used the Killing Curse at the same time, on each other, so that you were both killed. At the moment of Mr Riddle's latest death the nearest Horcrux activated – the one inside Mr Potter. Two bonded souls were active within the same body. Had Mr Potter not been killed a millisecond afterwards, the two of you would now be sharing the same body. As it is, one of your souls is alive, and one is not, yet the two of you are bonded to such a degree that your fates are inextricably linked. Death and Life are acting as two equal but opposing forces so that you are neither alive nor dead, suspended between the two states. Our problem is what to do with you now."

"So we're stuck with each other forever?" Harry asked dully. The girl nodded, looking faintly compassionate.

"I don't want to be stuck with you forever!" Harry failed at the Dark Lord. "You killed my parents! You killed Sirius! You killed Cedric! You tortured me! You look like a – ow!"

Voldemort had slapped him. Harry rubbed his cheek and glared.

"I'm not pleased about it either, Potter! You think I want to be stuck with a naïve, idiotic Gryffindor who interferes with everything I do?"

Harry scowled.

"You made my life miserable," he pointed out.

"So did you!" Voldemort said indignantly. "I was a disembodied spirit for thirteen years because of you!"

"And I was abused by magic-hating muggles for sixteen years because of you!" Harry shot back.

Voldemort got an odd look on his face and did not reply.

"What?"

oo o0o oo

… and that was how they ended up, some time later having a heart-felt discussion about their terrible childhoods. Of course, it being Harry and Voldemort doing the discussing, somehow it had turned almost into some kind of macabre competition.

"You," and the Dark Lord waggled a finger in Harry's face, "have all kinds of child rights legislation to protect you now. We didn't have any of that in our time. I grew up through the end of the Depression and through the Second World War! Orphanages were under-funded, over-crowed places run by anyone who'd agree to work for such a low salary, which usually meant brutal sadists or hopeless drunks. We received what the rest of London could spare, which wasn't much and never enough, and were abused by anyone who felt like doing so!"

"Childs rights legislation only works if the authorities know its being ignored!" Harry argued. "I was starved, beaten up by my uncle and cousin, wore only Dudley's old clothes, and for most of my life slept in a hall cupboard! You tell me that's better than what you grew up with!"

A sudden, very ugly sneer grew on Voldemort's face.

"Oh, I will, Mr Potter. Or did you find… older people… noticed … what an attractive young boy you were?" He leered at Harry, lasciviousness seeping from every pore. "Well, Harry? Did you find any older people took an… unnaturalinterest," and he leaned closer, his face only an inch or so from Harry's, "…in you?"

Harry gulped, staring into red eyes only inches from his own.

"You win," he squeaked. Voldemort smirked and sat back, but still with a trace of that disquieting expression on his face.

"I must say, however," Voldemort mused, more cheerful now that his little display of domination had worked, "that you and I have a remarkably great deal in common."

"I'm glad you think so."

Voldemort jumped and Harry eeped, before flushing in embarrassment. It was the girl again, smiling happily.

"We've worked out a solution," she announced. "You probably won't be completely happy with it, but it should be tolerable for both you and the rest of the universe. You're going to be sent back now. I'll see you both again in a few decades. Good luck. Spend your time wisely."

"Wait!" Harry wasn't sure about this. "What solution? And will it still work next time we–"

But the two had vanished. The girl clicked her tongue.

"Smart boy," she muttered to herself. "'Will it still work next time we die,' indeed. I just hope the other one doesn't get him into too much trouble."

Azrael adjusted her blouse slightly before turning back to work. As they say, Death never sleeps. It rarely stops for breaks, either.

oo o0o oo

Harry slowly came to himself, feeling tender and sore. Hushed voices spoke around him.

"Twenty-three death eaters killed in Hogsmeade alone…"

"… body taken by the Unspeakables for study – they want to confirm he's really dead this time, I think…"

"…Orders of Merlin…"

Harry managed to crack open one eye. Terrible though his vision was, he nonetheless managed to identify the hospital wing. He opened the other eye.

"Hi," he croaked.

"Harry!" and suddenly a cacophony broke out as a close blurry shape placed Harry's glasses on his face. It turned out to be Hermione.

"You did it!" she squealed,hugging him. "You defeated Voldemort!"

Memory came rushing back; of the battle, and what had taken place afterwards. Harry shot upright, anxiously examining himself. He was fine, just sore, but became aware of a niggling in his scar, that stretched out a thread towards…

"VOLDEMORT!" Harry bellowed, vocally and mentally. The people clustered around him jumped and looked confused, but Harry waited resignedly as the feelings of annoyance flowing through his scar came closer and closer.

Screams filled the air as a silvery, red-eyed figure strolled through the wall and surveyed Harry. Harry stared back. For a moment the two silently examined each other, thoughts and emotions being exchanged and accepted.

"Tolerable, my eye," Voldemort said at last. "Not a word, Potter."

Harry grinned.

"'Course not, Tom."

"Don't call me Tom!"

"Harry," Ginny asked tentatively, but with a steely glint in her eye, "perhaps you'd like to explain?"

THE END

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AN:

Sequel coming! Yes, this was all based on a strange dream I had. It wasn't a HP dream, but I figured dumping Harry and Voldie in there would be a big improvement on the story.