Disclaimer: All rights belong to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. I'm only a fan writing for pure entertainment and do not mean to gain any sort of profit from this.
Warning: SLASH - HP/LV
A/N: Some explanations to follow at the end of chap. Enjoy.
A sharp whistle rang through the air and an old-fashioned carriage came into view, complete with a driver and a chestnut horse with a gleaming coat. With a soft murmur of, "there, there..." the horse came to a stop in front of the caller and the driver looked down good-naturedly upon him.
"Where to, young sir?"
"The Station, please," the boy replied curtly before making his way to the back to get on. After the driver gave a quick look back to make sure he'd taken a seat, he clicked his tongue to prompt the horse into an even trot. Harry Potter leaned into a side, closing his eyes to ward off any conversation from the driver's end. He was unsuccessful though. Most dwellers in this part of the Otherworld were a happy lot and assumed everyone else was as well.
"So, The Station eh? Where 'bouts will you be catching a train to?" The driver spoke with amusement in his voice, as though catching a train was a rather odd thing to do.
"I'm not too sure yet..." Harry replied honestly, eyes still closed. He could feel the driver's bemusement but felt no need to give a further explanation.
Some time went by and the slight decrease in pace and the rise in noise told him that they'd arrived at the Old City. Despite it still being dark out, there were a number of early morning merchants and vendors already up and about, setting up their wares for the day. One thing that may have struck as peculiar was that none of the goods were food or anything consumable. Most consisted of trinkets and magical talismans from far off lands, exotic clothes and even gear for adventurers that found rest only in climbing mountains or scaling forests. Some shoppers were out as well, not because the goods would be in abundance at the earliest but because it was simply a time that suited the schedule they'd fallen into.
The activity of the Old City was always a pleasing sight for him when viewed from afar. Harry enjoyed seeing various other souls and wondering what form their personal heaven took or what they would spend the rest of eternity doing. He himself did not live in a city though, old or new. He found people rather tiresome. His young death had made him an old man.
After passing through the market square, the noise diminished considerably. The range of old, slightly crumbling buildings soon began to fall away and the street became a dirt road, snaking its way through tall, wavy grass. Perfect landscapes passed by for some time more and The Station then finally came into view. It was a double platform, with two tracks running along the middle for the only two trains that stopped there: the Locale and the Other Train. The most commonly used was the Locale, taking passengers to various locations all over the basic region. Like the small station, it was also quite unused and it's purpose stumped many, what with apparation being as popular a method of travel here as it was in the wizarding world.
The Other Train whose tracks, despite being far more unused than The Station and the Locale combined, shone a steely silver was the far more interesting of the two. The dark, lustrous steam locomotive that came only when called was a legend of sorts, even in a place that was believed to be one itself. A legend, because it was supposed to be able to do the one thing that souls were warned against - able to cross the boundaries between the living and the dead. It was this train that Harry sought.
The driver, presuming he would be taking the Locale, came to a stop at the platform nearest to the road. He looked genuinely surprised when Harry spoke up from behind him and said in a quiet voice, "The other platform, actually."
The driver opened his mouth uncertainly and Harry looked stonily back. Then, without a word, he turned around, jerking the reins slightly and guiding the horse to cross over the rails to the other platform. Harry hopped off and walked over to where the driver was seated, looking at the platform with guarded eyes.
"Thank you very much for the ride. It is most appreciated." Harry's voice was still quiet but softened now. The driver gave a toothy smile, waving off the thanks.
Harry made no move to pay the driver; he had no money on him simply because no currency existed. All goods were bought with a thanks, merchants only selling for the joy of showing off what they had collected on their many travels. All services were also carried out similarly, by the pure goodness in the hearts of those that served. It was a perfect world, the Otherworld was. Yet for Harry Potter... something was missing, something that made him malcontent.
Seeing the still beaming driver, Harry felt a question bubble up to his lips. Curiosity from past life still not curbed, he blurted, "Why do you do it? Pull the carriage, that is."
The driver leaned back into his seat and gave another smile. "In my old life, I was a carriage driver ever since I'd learned how to manage horses from m'father. Doing anything else just seemed... odd."
Harry nodded slowly and turned to make his way up the tiled steps.
"Wait, boy," the driver called out and Harry turned around grudgingly. "I won't ask why," said the driver hesitantly, "but... do take care of yourself, you hear me?"
Harry nodded again and gave a small smile. As he made his way up the steps, the driver closed his eyes and prayed reverently for poor boy, praying that he would find rest. He'd heard about the Other Train more often than not, owing to his profession. Perfectly good souls grew mad waiting for that train, the train that only came when it was called from the deepest and most profound desire of a heart.
Had the kind driver known who Harry Potter had once been, the boy that was legend himself, he would not have doubted whether the train would show. The train's whistle rang through the air and the boy jerked awake violently, having dozed off sometime ago. The sun had come up through the mountains to the east and the sudden light was too bright for his eyes. After rubbing them and stretching, Harry squinted around the station, unsurprised to find himself still the only traveller. The train came to a squealing stop in front of him, steam rolling off from the slowing wheels. Harry got up, baggage-less, and made his way to the first coach, out of which a conductor was leaning halfway out, examining his clipboard carefully.
"A ticket, please."
The conductor looked up from his clipboard sharply, still holding a pen against his stubby chin. He was dressed immaculately in a black and grey uniform, unlike the conductors for the Locale which dressed in bright red. Silver, thin-framed glasses rested on the very edge of his nose, having slid off from their original position while he read. Straightening up and clearing his throat, he said smoothly, "Name, please."
"Harry Potter, died May 19th, 1998."
Nodding once, the conductor ran a finger over his clipboard. From where Harry was standing he could see names whipping over the page at blinding speed until they screeched to a halt at his own name. The glasses on the conductor's nose slid precariously to the edge as scrutinized the name and Harry had to restrain him self from pushing them up properly himself.
"So you are one Mr. Harry James Potter, who died in the conclusion of the Second Wizarding War on May 19th, 1998?"
Harry nodded a confirmation, holding his tongue from pointing out the repetitive nature of the conductor's words. At his indication, the conductor motioned to a small gizmo hanging off the side of his belt that Harry had failed to notice before. The gizmo whirred to life and a sightly smoking ticket popped out, with silver lettering on a grey background. Making a pamphlet appear out of thin air, the conductor handed both to Harry with a slight bow and moved to the side to allow Harry entrance into the train.
Harry scrambled up the steps as the conductor yanked a golden cord hanging near the door twice. The train gave another sharp whistle and began to move at once with a slight jerk, making Harry stumble. Once stable, Harry moved deeper into the coach, clutching his ticket and pamphlet tightly.
The interior of the train was brighter than Harry had expected, despite the overall grey and white scheme. Plush seats of a soft cloth alike those in the Hogwarts Express lined the length of the coach. The arrangement reminded Harry more akin to muggle subways though, with seats that lined the length of the coach and hand bars that ran from floor to ceiling every couple of seats.
Gripping his fingers around a handle bar Harry sat down awkwardly on a seat to his right, the speed of the jerking train reminding him of the Knight Bus, minus the sharp turns. He looked around for the conductor and saw that the man and his slipping glasses were nowhere to be seen. There was no sign of other passengers either but that didn't strike Harry as odd much. After all, if the train was legendary than it was probable that not too many people knew that it actually did exist. He himself had gone to The Station mainly on whim, not knowing if the elusive train would even show up. Since it had, Harry had climbed aboard, not really willing to think about the consequences of going back to a world that was no longer his.
Leaning back with a sigh, he uncurled the ticket and pamphlet in his hands and kept the latter aside, choosing to examine the ticket first. Harry J. Potter was written in silver writing across the front with black lettering reading The Train, King's Cross Station printed just beneath. Apart from those two pieces of information, the ticket said nothing else, looking for all as ordinary as a carnival ticket. All the same, Harry put it carefully into the pocket of his jeans and picked up the pamphlet.
There was a slight change in the light inside and Harry looked out the window behind him, amazed to see it completely obscured by fog. They had only just left The Station, which had been bathed in sunlight and surrounded by greenery. There had been not a sign of clouds or impending fog in the sky. He fleetingly wondered where they could be, whether the tracks to this particular train even ran on ground. Questions such as these, those that questioned powers beyond his understanding, were always fleeting though. It was perhaps a side-effect of being dead, with souls so much more freer than they had been when bound to living a life.
Just then, the door through which he'd entered swung open once more and the conductor stepped in, looking slightly apprehensive. He gave another small bow to Harry and asked, "We hope you are finding your journey pleasant till now?"
Harry nodded then asked, "We?"
"The driver of The Train and I," the conductor supplied.
"Then there are really no other passengers on this train?"
The conductor studied him carefully before replying. "What exactly do you know about The Train, Mr. Potter?"
"It's somewhat of a legend isn't it? Even here..." When the conductor did not reply and merely stared at him, he continued, "It appears only to certain people and only at certain times... well from what I've heard at least."
"Yes, it does only appear to certain people... although not on mere whim. Either the person must want to visit the living with such intensity in their heart that it cannot be ignored or..."
"Or what?" prompted Harry.
The conductor leaned close and whispered, "Or, fate must be at work..."
Harry stared back, nonplussed. "Fate?"
The man straightened up, finally pushing his glasses back to their rightful place. "I am actually here to inform you, Mr. Potter, that this train will be making another stop on route to our final destination."
"Oh," said Harry, not understanding why this was something he had to be informed about. "I'm guessing this is not normal then...?"
"Quite right," said the conductor, gazing out the window at the relentless fog. "Usually The Train is summoned to fulfill a burning desire of one, singular soul. Never two, never anymore. Yet today... we will be stopping to let another passenger on board."
"I see," said Harry. "Are there other stations then? Around all of Otherworld?"
"Yes," replied the conductor, "the station we will be stopping at is rather... unorthodox, if you will."
Harry got the impression that despite his impassive manner, the conductor was enjoying the turn of events, what with his frequent trailings off and prompts. Harry obliged by saying, "unorthodox?"
The conductor dropped his voice again and whispered, "We will be stopping... at the Abyss."
This time Harry needed no prompt, "Abyss?" he said blankly.
The conductor sighed deeply at his lack of knowledge but Harry's curiosity kept him from getting annoyed. "An endless expanse of nothing that slowly rips apart it's inhabitants to nothing... would be an adequate way to describe the Abyss. Although it is so much more than just that..."
Harry was silent, wondering what sort of passenger they could possibly be picking up from such a place. "How can we stop at an expanse of nothing though?"
The conductor chuckled. "We'll be stopping at the edge, sir. Though I must mention that The Train is the only thing that can do so."
"I see," said Harry, quiet again for a moment. "So... this person and I, we must be connected somehow right?"
"Right again, Mr. Potter."
Harry said nothing back, an uneasy feeling going through his stomach. He was surprised at the feeling though, not having felt anything like it since his death. Lost in his brooding, he jumped when, with a motion of the conductor's hand, the curtains around the windows unbound themselves. Harry blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Small, ornate lamps that Harry could've sworn weren't there when he'd entered, were the only source of light now. He looked back up at the conductor, whose glasses were rendered opaque from a lamp flickering right beside him.
"I advice you to stay seated for another while, Mr. Potter. The windows will be viewable once again when we have crossed past the Abyss."
Harry nodded once more and the conductor turned around and left, disappearing into the shadows.
Harry was once again woken with bright light in his face. He'd fallen asleep with his mouth open, drooling slightly, with his body hunched forward and head resting on the hand rail in front of him. He wiped his mouth hastily on his sleeve and turned to look out the window behind him. The Train had slowed its previous jostling pace, travelling through fog once again.
Harry started to yawn slowly and stretch... before coming to an abrupt stop. Where before the coach had been empty, there was now a man sitting a few seats across from him. The man too was asleep, with his chin nodding on his chest. An overgrown black fringe covered the upper half of his face, with a long collared coat covering most of the bottom. His posture was completely relaxed except a hand which gripped the hand bar in front of him so tightly that his knuckles stood out.
Harry wondered who the man could be, feeling as though he knew him, but for the life of him couldn't figure out exactly who. From what was visible of his drooping face, Harry could only see long-lashed eyes set against a pale complexion. Harry stared for another while at the stranger, trying to place him. Then realizing what he was doing, hastily looked away.
Remembering his intent to read the pamphlet before he'd unceremoniously fallen asleep, he reached a hand to the seat beside him. But the pamphlet wasn't there. Harry frowned, sure that he'd left it there before the conductor had come. Thinking it may have fallen on the floor, Harry got down on his knees to search under the seats.
He crawled forward on his hands, looking underneath the seats both on his side and the side that the stranger sat on. He neared the sleeping man, biting his lip slightly and reaching a hand underneath the seat right across from the man.
"Looking for something?"
Harry jumped and withdrew his hand from underneath the seat quickly, hitting it on the edge in the process. Clutching his hand with the other, he looked up at the man whom he had awoken. "Yes," he said, squinting his eyes at the man. A window was right situated right behind him, making it difficult for Harry to see his face. He got up and dusted away imaginary dust from his jeans. A hand held out his pamphlet and Harry reached his unhurt hand forward, looking up at the stranger's face for the first time.
"Tha-" Harry's voice caught in his throat. He could not believe his eyes.
"I took the liberty of taking yours. The conductor seems to have forgotten to give me one."
Harry's mouth had fallen open. Didn't he remember him?
"Are you alright, Harry?"
Harry's mouth closed with a snap as soon as he heard his name. His hand reached forward automatically to take the pamphlet. He then turned around and walked back to his old seat with careful, measured steps. He didn't dare look back just yet. Hopefully when he sat back down and looked again, the stranger would morph into someone else. Anyone else.
Of course he had no such luck. When he sat back down and his eyes dared stray back to where the only other passenger of the train was sitting, emerald eyes still met crimson. Harry shut his eyes tightly... it wasn't normal... the red eyes on a normal, human face.
"Shutting your eyes will not make me go away." His voice sounded amused.
Eyes still shut, Harry whispered, "Then what will?"
"I don't know. Killing me didn't help, did it?" His voice was now almost cross and if he wasn't who Harry thought he was, Harry would have been sure that he was pouting.
Harry opened his eyes, looking back at him. "So the curse backfired on you as well?"
Eyebrows raised, he replied, "Don't tell me you didn't know that? Even if you didn't follow the ongoings of the wizarding world, surely with all the company you must have here..."
Harry looked away, "I didn't seek them out."
There was silence. Harry's hands balled into fists as he felt quiet footsteps approach him. Eyes still on his clenched hands, Harry tensed as he felt the weight of the seat shift beside him. The silence stretched on.
"None of them?" he asked and Harry shook his head. "Not even your parents?"
Risking a glance, Harry shook his head again. They were bare inches from each other. Now that he'd looked once, Harry could not make himself look away again. There was something different about his eyes... something that hadn't been there in his reptilian form. They drew him in almost hungrily and Harry could feel himself getting lost...
The door swung open once again and Harry looked away, flushing. What had just happened? Why did he feel so... weird?
"Ah sirs, I've just come to inform you that we will be reaching Kings Cross Station shortly."
Harry didn't look up at the conductor, feeling as though he'd been caught in the middle of doing something indecent. There was a small murmur of "thank you" from beside him and both passengers fell silent again.
If the conductor noticed something amiss, he did a good job of hiding it. "I'd also been unable to give you your ticket before. Your name, if you please?"
Harry looked back up, wondering what name he would use.
"I was known as Lord Voldemort."
"And the date of death?" the conductor asked, not even slightly perturbed by the odd name.
"May 19th, 1998."
Another smoking ticket popped out of the little gizmo and the conductor handed it to the recipient with a small bow and left the coach.
As Voldemort examined the ticket much like Harry had, he blurted, "You don't look like Voldemort anymore."
"That is correct," said Voldemort, "I don't."
"Why not?" asked Harry, half cursing his rebellious tongue.
Voldemort looked back at Harry, leaned forward and whispered with a smirk, "Death bares all..."
Harry leaned back from him and turned his face away, flushing again. There was something definitely wrong with him...
"You look exactly like your old self."
Harry nodded, not knowing what to say. His mind then brought forth a detail he'd missed before, "The conductor didn't give you a pamphlet."
Voldemort nodded this time, crimson eyes still boring into Harry. "I am not quite on the same... liberal expedition as you."
Harry looked confused and Voldemort continued, "I am being sent back to the living to find something."
"Like what?" asked Harry.
"I don't know. I was just told to find the something that's missing," Voldemort's face twisted slightly as he said this, as though he was annoyed by the lack of description he'd been given.
Harry lapsed into silence. Dare he tell his old archenemy that his own personal quest was along the same lines? No, he decided in the end, it can wait.
"You are different as well... quiet."
It was Harry who felt annoyed this time. "In case you failed to notice, every time we met before I was fighting for my life. I'm sorry for not having a civil conversation with you while trying to save my own arse..."
Voldemort chuckled and Harry found himself thinking that he liked this new, deep laugh much more than high cold voice from before. The voice still had a certain iciness to it, but it lacked the insanity it'd contained before.
"Well, I think if not in life then perhaps in death, we'll finally be able to hold some lasting conversations..."
"Don't plan on it," muttered Harry, looking out the window in front of them. The fog was still quite thick, but lighter. After a moment, he felt The Train decreasing its speed gradually.
"Where do you plan to go?" Voldemort asked suddenly, catching Harry by surprise.
"I, er, well I hadn't really thought about it actually..." Changing the subject hastily, he asked, "What about you? Where do you plan to start looking?"
"I'm not too sure either." Voldemort said with a sigh and Harry caught himself thinking about how painful the sigh sounded. Then realizing that his increasing tendency to muse over Voldemort's every expression was exactly like that of swooning, young woman, he stopped, angry with himself yet again.
The Train screeched to a stop and Harry got up, peering out the window. "There's still just fog!" he exclaimed to Voldemort.
"Perhaps they expect us to float down to the world of living then," Voldemort said with a smirk.
Harry frowned at him and started to make his way to the door, Voldemort following.
The conductor was waiting for them outside, holding the outer metal door open. Upon closer inspection, Harry saw that they were actually on a misty platform and that the conductor was standing on some sort of a white floor. Their surroundings seemed to melt into the mist but the more Harry looked, the more he could see.
A bench appeared, then a wall behind it. A clock materialized hanging from the ceiling – a ceiling, which appeared to be domed and made of glass with sunlight filtering in. Newspaper stands and ticket booths came into form before his very eyes. Astounded, Harry looked back and saw Voldemort also gazing in hidden amazement at the surroundings. Looking past him, Harry was shocked to see that The Train had disappeared! In it's place were modern, electric trains that had people – which had also seemingly vaporized into existence out of the mist – walking in and out of them. Harry tugged on the sleeve of Voldemort's large coat and Voldemort turned around as well, noticing the other trains.
Then suddenly, "Move out of the way! A busy platform such as this is no place to just stand around!" The speaker was a robust, muggle ticket collector, glaring at the two of them murderously. Voldemort opened his mouth furiously but Harry grabbed his sleeve and dragged him away. They wove in and out of rushing people, all with rather large trolleys and many a suitcases that hit Harry's knees and shins. He'd lost practice, he supposed, as there had been no crowds in the Otherworld.
Finally, finding an empty bench away from the hubbub of the trains and their busy passengers, Harry sat down, pulling down Voldemort with him. Voldemort sat down almost in daze, looking at Harry as though he was out of his mind.
Harry suppressed a smile. "Are you so taken with the crowds at Kings Cross or the fact that I dragged you like a child through half the station?"
"A bit of both, actually," Voldemort replied with half a grin and Harry found his heart stopping. Seeing the image of another swooning girl in his head, Harry quickly let go of Voldemort's sleeved and busied himself in looking at the passersby.
Voldemort cleared his throat and said, "It is evident I cannot traverse the muggle world, or the wizarding for that matter, on my own."
Harry looked at him, brows raised, knowing what he was getting at. "And..."
"And, well, I'd..." Voldemort did not finish, jaw set and looking away from Harry for the first time.
Harry smirked openly. "And what?"
"And you know what!" Voldemort said, eyes flashing.
"You want me to come with you," said Harry quietly.
"Yes," the previous Dark Lord said with a deep breath.
"What?" growled Voldemort.
"Say. Please." Harry said impertinently, enunciating every word as though to a child.
"I do not plead, boy. Never have, never will."
"Then I don't help Dark Lords. Never have, never will." Harry fought to keep a straight face. He was having a little too much fun with this.
"Alright," said Voldemort with gritted teeth. "Please."
Harry looked at Voldemort, deadpan. "No one would even give you the trash they were throwing away with that kind of a please."
Voldemort scowled. Then his expression suddenly cleared, and he leaned uncomfortably close to Harry. So close that Harry could feel Voldemort's breath on him and make out the flecks of black in the crimson eyes...
A whistle rang in the background and a train chugged away. Harry sprang back from Voldemort as though shocked.
"F-Fine. Let's go," said Harry, grabbing Voldemort's sleeve again and hiding his own scarlet face from him. The scarlet, which he firmly told himself as he dragged Voldemort through the crowd, that was there only because of embarrassment and anger... not anything else.
Whatever the reason though, Harry knew he'd given in far to easily.
What was worse, was that he could feel Voldemort's eyes firmly on his back and he could sense a smirk playing about the Dark Lord's face. What was worse was that Voldemort knew Harry had given in far to easily... and that he would use this new found weapon to the fullest. And lastly, what was absolutely and unforgivably worse was that in truth, Harry would not mind him doing so.
Well not much anyway...
A/N: So new story. Don't even ask how this happened. It was aliens, I swear. Entity (other story) update coming soon. I'm an ass for putting this up before that but if you'll believe it, I wrote this in two hours and just had to. 'The power of HPFandom compels you!' (no offense meant)
REVIEW! it's not a one-shot. I want to continue and I have no shame in saying I'm a writer for readers. So response does mean a lot to me.
It's probably kinda confusing right now but put your questions in the reviews so that I'll know the difference between withholding information to make the plot more interesting and leading readers on a wild duck and goose chase.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Do you guys like how I'm characterizing LV and HP? They're obviously not too cannonish but I hope they're still distinguishable as HP and LV...