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.
Warnings: SLASH LV/HP
A/N: A one-shot, inspired by my other in-progress fiction, Conversations and Retributions. It is inspired by, not based off of, so you don't need to read that in order to read this.
Rain and Regret
Harry gazed up at the grey sky, watching the raindrops seemingly form out of the wide expanse and then become visible against the green landscape. The rain was rare here and he found that he had rather missed it. There was only so much sunshine one could take after all.
The raindrops were loud against the tin roof, hammering down with growing intensity as time passed slowly. A soft hoot made itself heard despite of it and looking up higher, Harry saw an owl perched on the metal bar supporting the roof. She was beautiful, snowy white with amber eyes... and if owl expressions were anything to be interpreted, looking at him a bit reproachfully.
He smiled at it, having seen the owl many times. He knew on instinct that he had known her in lives past and in the most recent, as Hedwig. Whether she was cross with him for not having taken her on as a pet again or for not acknowledging her at all, he did not know. For a lone soul, a pet owl might have done him some good but he wasn't too keen on the idea. The serendipitous nature of their occasional meetings appealed to him much more. It was nice, if a little solitary, to not be bound by anyone or by anything. A state he had gotten used to and now planned on keeping.
Resting his chin on his knee, he looked up and down the train station, squinting by habit. There was no one else, of course. Train stations weren't necessary here, where unspoken wishes came into being at the merest thought. Who knew... maybe his heart had unknowingly wished for the presence of the owl and so she had come. Similarly, some other soul could have wished for the rain that Harry now sat enjoying. And yet, Harry wondered what would happen if another soul found the rain to his disagreement. Would the clouds part and the rain cease? Or would the disagreer find his mind changed for him?
Harry closed his eyes, chasing the questions away. There was no need to brood on things beyond anyone's understanding. The above was, more or less, his reason for warding off any troublesome questions and queries that came to his mind. A free soul seemed to be a lot more carefree than it was when bound inside a body, haunted forever by unanswerable questions and an unquenched thirst for knowledge. His old curiosity had stayed with him but he was glad that things did not bother him as they had before.
Harry's eyes opened as felt something soft against his cheek. It was the tip of the owl's wing, slightly caressing his face as she circled around him once and then flew off, soon indiscernible against the opaque sky. Harry watched her go as a smile crept unbidden on his face and his heart twisted the slightest bit at the loss of her company. It was alright though, he hadn't told her to stay nor had he wanted her to. She should be free here, not bound by any master and with the sky as her only cage.
Knee folded with one foot on the bench he was sitting on, he played with the threads of his jeans that had come undone at the hem. Clothes became worn here too, the ends of his jeans getting caught in the frayed runners he chose to wore. Their scruffiness did not bother him. They were more comfortable than anything else and if his apathetic mind ever wished it, they would mend themselves within the blink of an eye anyway.
Trying to loosen a knot he'd gotten his finger caught into, he started slightly as he heard a whistle in the distance and the unmistakable sound of the chugging wheels of a train. He got up, walking to the edge of the platform as he looked down the tracks. Sure enough, a train was coming closer by second, steam coming out of the smoke stack and a light shining on the wet rails. The sky was darkening as the train finally came to a stop in front of the station, emitting a hiss of steel as the wheels stopped their motion. The train was painted dark in shades of grey and black, with hints of silver sparkling here and there. A simple plaque reading, 'The Train' was tacked onto the steam engine and Harry noticed that the engine contained no space for a driver.
A door opened itself as he walked over to the first coach, hunched slightly against the onslaught of the heavy rain. He peered inside, but the yellow bulb that had come to life as soon as he came revealed no one else. Stepping in, he pulled opened the second door to his side that led to where the seats were located. The interior was as finished as the outside, with plush seats lining both sides of the coach.
The bulb that had illuminated his way before now turned off and Harry blinked in the sudden shift in the light. Before he could find his bearings and choose a seat, the train gave another whistle and started to move. Gripping one of the rails that ran from ceiling to floor, Harry sat down on the seat closest to him as the train quickly picked up speed.
The rain continued to lash against the wide windows behind him, making it impossible to see outside. The sky continued it's darkening and Harry gave a yawn, rolling his shoulders. He had waited on the station for the better part of day and the lethargy had finally caught up with him. He looked about again but the coach was devoid of life.
Pulling off his shoes and stowing them beneath the seat, he lay back, stretching over three consecutive seats. His socks were slightly wet but he paid them no attention, sleep coming easily with the rhythmic jerking of the train.
Devoid of life... he thought with a dry smile just before falling asleep. Of course it was... What else would one expect in the land of dead?
Harry awoke to find a pair of eyes staring at him. Red eyes, to be specific.
Rubbing his own emerald ones, Harry got up slowly, gaping dumbfounded at the person sitting across from him.
He sat imperiously, legs half crossed and a hand resting lightly on the knee. The other hand was stowed behind his head, acting as rest against the window. A sneer was playing about his lips, taking in Harry's drowsy form. The lips were situated on a very human face, he noted; the only thing out of the ordinary being the eyes.
Hand coming up absently behind his own neck, Harry ran it through his wild hair, still in shock. It was Voldemort... looking a lot more like Tom Riddle. Dark hair hung past his ears and he was equipped once again with a slightly pinched but prominent nose.
They started at each other for another moment, still silent. After a while, Harry's mouth opened... and then closed. Not knowing what to say, Harry swung his feet off the seats, hand reaching underneath the seat for his runners. Harry pulled them on, stuffing the laces in the sides messily. After completing his task, he sat back up, eyes going again to the only other passenger on the train.
With a small jut of his chin, the other motioned to the seat on Harry's right. Harry looked over and saw a small piece of paper sitting where his head had been moments ago. Picking it up between his thin fingers, Harry looked at it curiously. Harry Potter, 1980-1998. Destination: Unknown.
He flipped it over, but found nothing else. It was unlike any other ticket he had ever seen, just a plain piece of paper with inked writing. He made to put it in his pocket but Voldemort – or Riddle, held his hand out.
Harry hesitated but then placed the ticket in the open palm that was paler even in contrast to the paper. As Voldemort (he still had the eyes, after all) examined the ticket, Harry scrutinized him in return, recalling that Riddle had never really been all that pale, only sallow.
After getting over the casually intimidating posture and elegance, Harry saw that the man was thin to the point of unhealthiness. His skin was most definitely paler than before, cheeks almost completely sunken in. Dark shadows had made themselves a home underneath the eyes and dropping his gaze to Voldemort's long fingers, he saw that they shook slightly, like that of an old man.
After a moment, Voldemort held out the ticket to him again on his open palm and Harry picked it up carefully, not letting his fingers brush against the shaking hand. After putting it in his pocket, Harry looked back at Voldemort, finally uttering a word.
"Yours?" he asked, voice a little raspy – he didn't speak too much these days.
"Not necessary." The tone wasn't superior, only impassive.
"Why not?" Harry asked, the response sparking something within him.
"A ticket signifies permission to ride. Tonight, The Train rides for me."
Harry could hear almost hear the capitalization of the words and they rolled off his tongue experimentally, "The Train..."
Voldemort said nothing, shadows and bright lights crossing his face from the windows behind Harry as The Train passed through some settlement. Harry turned around, peering through his window and trying make out shapes before they quickly went by. The rain was still heavy outside and soon, the settlement passed, leaving The Train to traverse in the darkness once again.
He turned back around, eyes moving up and down the otherwise empty coach once again. Another question came to mind. "If The Train rides for you, then why did it pick me up first?"
For the first time, Voldemort hesitated slightly. Something tightened in his face and he replied a little tersely, "I do not know."
Harry raised a brow, "But you have theories."
"I do," he replied simply, not elaborating.
Knowing he wouldn't immediately be able to get the topic of why The Train was in function tonight and for him, Harry decided to steer the subject away for a bit, hoping to get the reclusive old Dark Lord talking.
"How has it been for you then? Death, that is," he asked, leaning back into the seat.
"Perfectly charming," Voldemort replied with a slight pursing of his lips.
"I can see that," Harry continued, "the new image isn't all that bad... but you look tired, worn out."
"I've been quite busy," Voldemort replied shortly and Harry nodded. If Voldemort wasn't willing to be sharing anecdotes yet, then Harry supposed he could wait.
"... And what has made Harry Potter leave his safe haven to travel in mysterious trains at night?"
"Boredom," Harry said smoothly, "though from all the 'mysterious trains', I must tell you that this is actually my first."
"And my last," Voldemort said softly. Harry looked at him curiously, a thousand questions forming on his lips. Before he could address any one of them though, Voldemort asked, "Is the perfect world not enough for you? Having found yourself bored already..."
Harry shrugged by way of response and then said in all seriousness, "Well there are no Dark Lord's to defeat..."
Voldemort smirked, "I would have thought it would be a relief. No horcruxes to destroy, no lives to save... no expectations to live up to. Or did your previous fame make it impossible for you to lead a quiet life?"
"Only some of it comes a relief, I guess. Other things are... missed," he said vaguely, the response twisting weirdly out of him.
Voldemort frowned slightly then looked away, choosing to stare out the window instead.
He was... statuesque, Harry thought as he studied his profile against the dark window. The pure picture of arrogance and poise, even with the rather ragged state than before. Death had made him different though... broken. The power no longer rolled off of him in waves, yet the natural ability to lead and intimidate was still deep set. There was no longer any cruelty in the crimson eyes, only a resigned acceptance.
It put a sour taste in Harry's mouth, the thought of Lord Voldemort reduced to this. The absence of cruelty felt odd and the curt replies oddly reminded him of the old potions master, Severus Snape. Tom Riddle's once pristine appearance now had the look of someone who had seen too much and been through too much. It was disconcerting.
Voldemort seemed content to look out the window for all eternity and Harry was reduced to twiddling his thumbs as boredom began to make itself known again. Unable to take it anymore, Harry stood up suddenly, shifting his feet inside his shoes. Voldemort gave no indication of noticing his movement and after another look at the seemingly frozen figure, Harry made his way to the other end of the coach.
The Train had looked quite long when it had picked him up and there was no better way for Harry to pass the time than to explore it's entire length. Without a look back at Voldemort, Harry pushed open the door, stepping inside the small rickety passageway that connected the first coach to the second car.
Despite his love of flying, he was never one for shaky platforms. Leaping over the jointed floor quickly, he pulled open the next door and stepped inside. It was another coach, identical to the one he had been staying in and was again, empty. Harry looked about slowly, passing time as much as possible. To his disappointment, The Train seemed to maintain a strict rule of cleanliness as well. There were no discarded tickets or other things lying about. For all he knew, this could be the first time The Train had ever been commissioned to ride.
Harry moved on, finding three more empty coaches until finally coming across something different. It was a dining car, with rectangular tables and seats facing each other. It struck Harry as odd, having a dining car when there seemed to be no arrangement or need of food. There were no necessities to survive here, though one could argue whether life after death would even need surviving. Either way, food could be enjoyed despite there being no hunger, only by way of a tempted tongue.
The dining car was as cleanly swept as the others, though set on each table were a pack of napkins along with salt and pepper. Leaning over one of the tables, Harry picked up a napkin, turning it over in his hands. It was nondescript... just a napkin with the words, 'The Train' printed in the same neat writing at the bottom.
Casting the napkin aside on the table, Harry moved on again. Before pulling open the door to the next car though, Harry looked back... and blinked. The napkin had vanished.
Shaking his head in amusement, Harry kept going. The next car was a mix of sorts and Harry could see that it was the last. An average sized passenger train then, The Train was, and not quite as long as Harry had thought. The current car was split into two, the end covered with shelves for placing baggage and the first half resembling an observation car. Harry looked out the wider windows and could only make out a few hazy shapes in the dark. This particular car was almost completely dark, save for the customary bright light at the end of train outside that provided some light. It was here that Harry decided to sit for a while, on the hard benches rather than the stuffy plush seats inside.
The dark was a relief and the coldness in the air welcome. Finally, Harry could think.
Lord Voldemort was a passenger on this train...
Please, please wake up! Harry you can't have...
You've got to, you've got to wake up! Please..
So many tears... so many voices. He had heard them all, seen them all. Standing over his lifeless body, cradled lovingly by the old gamekeeper Hagrid in Hogwarts' courtyard where all of the light and dark army stood waiting.
They were all there, his friends, the Order... He'd felt so helpless, seeing their tears and pleas for him to wake. But he hadn't, just standing there surreally and listening to their mourning.
Voldemort's body had also lain there and Harry had moved away from the side of his own to his enemy's. The Death Eaters had all apparated away, save for a Bellatrix trying to rouse her lord while tears streamed down her once beautiful face. But Voldemort too had just lain there, his soul nowhere in sight, the red eyes open in shock and the lipless mouth slack.
But before Harry could have seen the outcome of his death, of Voldemort's death, he'd been made unconscious and whisked away. When he had next opened his eyes, he was in a perfect world, surrounded by perfectly happy people. Yet for Harry, his mind had not since wavered from the old world, the world he just could not forget ...
"So you're here," spoke a voice behind him and Harry jumped. Turning around he saw Voldemort standing there, upright but clutching tightly onto a pole. Harry nodded, thankful for the absence of tears.
Voldemort stepped farther into the coach, making his way through the baggage area. Using both his arms, he pulled open the steel door at the rear of The Train, holding it open for Harry. After a moment, Harry took the invitation and went through the door. Voldemort followed as the door swung shut behind them with a dull thud.
The rain had stopped, only a steady wind now whipped about his face and hair as The Train moved at a constant speed. Voldemort stepped forward, leaning his elbows on the rail and staring out into the darkness. Harry imitated him, glancing down to see that they were still on solid ground, the tracks visible.
The wind outside was cool, pleasant to Harry. He closed his eyes and leaned forward slightly, letting it play with his hair. It was almost like being on a broomstick again and Harry decided that once he got back, he would wish back his old firebolt.
When he opened his eyes again, he found Voldemort staring at him. Such was the intensity of his gaze that Harry looked away, unable to continue meeting his eyes. Something churned inside his stomach but Harry paid it no attention, choosing to ignore it. He squinted though the darkness once more, but could make out no more than a few sparse trees.
He heard Voldemort shifting beside him and found him rummaging inside the dark coat he wore. His clothes were plain and dark, just trousers, a shirt and coat. Finding what he was looking for, Harry was astonished to see him pull out a muggle lighter along with a pack of Marlboro Light.
Raising the packet up to his face, he pulled out a cigarette with his lips and cupped his hands to light it. He drew a long breath while Harry stared at him in open shock. Before he put it away, Voldemort held out the packet as though to offer him one. Harry shook his head and he stowed the packet and lighter away, blowing out the smoke.
Harry smelled in the nostalgic reek and was instantly put back into old memories of life of with the Dursleys. His uncle Vernon hadn't smoked but Harry had always passed by a group of old men smoking and squabbling over the newspaper on his way to school. It was a fond memory, as the old men had always waved at him and he had waved back. The smell fit into the memory perfectly. What did not was the fact that Voldemort was the one smoking it in the present.
"I had never imagined that you of all people would be a smoker," Harry commented quietly.
Voldemort jerked his shoulders slightly, "A habit I had picked up in my youth, during the summers away from school. I'd always missed it... after."
"How did you come across them here though? It's unlikely you would find them just lying around..."
"I asked for them," Voldemort replied. "They asked if I would like anything for the ride. Someone's company, a specific object..."
"And you picked a pack of Marlboro's?" Harry asked incredulously and Voldemort only smirked slightly in return, "Marlboro Light, yes."
Of course someone like Voldemort would be picky about the brand. But wait... "Someone's company? So then you are the reason I'm here."
"No," Voldemort said curtly, "I do not know why you are here."
Harry shrugged, turning away as Voldemort drew in another breath. He drummed his fingers lightly on the railing and asked, "Where is The Train taking you?"
Exhaling slowly, Voldemort replied, "The Abyss."
"What's the abyss?" He'd never heard of the place before.
"You'll find out soon enough," Voldemort said cryptically and Harry turned away again in annoyance. There was only to certain length that one could ward of conversation... and Voldemort was stretching it a little too much for Harry's liking. What had been the point of inviting him outside then? He'd been perfectly fine sitting brooding over death in the dark...
A sudden laugh escaped him and Voldemort looked at him with his eyebrows raised. Harry shook his head, suppressing a smile. His most recent thoughts had reminded of the moping ghost of Moaning Myrtle that had haunted the girl's bathroom on the second floor. She too had constantly contemplated death, sitting in the U-bend and going about the drain pipes with all sorts of filth and unmentionables. He supposed he was becoming like her... sitting in the dark brooding about death. Only difference was that he wasn't a ghost but a free soul, who had continued on when given the chance.
He felt sorry for her now, stuck in the living world for all eternity. Although he himself had not found contentment in the world here, the memories of standing helpless over his own body were enough to make him shudder. Even the boredom and restlessness of here were better than the utter inability to do nothing.
"Why did you willingly die? It could have been possible... to kill me without having to sacrifice yourself."
The question was unexpected and Harry was quiet for such a long time that Voldemort went back to his cigarette, thinking he would not reply. Eventually he said, "You didn't expect me to be able to sacrifice myself just to get to you. If there were other ways then you would have found a way to prevent them. You underestimated things... and I took advantage of it."
"Some advantage," scoffed Voldemort, "dying for others."
Harry gave half a grin, "I wouldn't expect you to understand."
"And I'll be sure to live up to those expectations," Voldemort sneered back.
They became silent once again, listening to the noise of The Train and swaying slightly along with it.
"What part of this world were you in, till now?"
"The Abyss," Voldemort said easily enough, leaving Harry confused.
"But I thought we were going to the abyss..."
"So then... Where were you before you caught The Train?"
Never one to give up easily, he tried again, "Then what's the point of going back to where you started from?"
"I don't know. Where will you be going, after The Train had dropped me off?"
Harry inclined his head said, "Back. But I'm here to ward off boredom while you say this train was especially commissioned for you..."
Harry waited another moment then said, "You're terrible at making conversation."
Voldemort spared him a glance, "You are the one making conversation. I'm quite content to puff on my cigarette quietly."
"Then why call me out here?" Harry demanded.
Voldemort exhaled slowly, "You looked like you could use some company."
Harry opened his mouth furiously and began to argue, "I look like I need company? You're the one who's all bones with sunken cheeks, sucking in smoke like you're about to..."
"About to?" Voldemort asked quietly.
"Ab-about to nothing. Nevermind." Harry said, hastily looking away. He'd been about say 'die' and the sudden truth of the words hit him hard. The resigned acceptance, the shortness of replies... Voldemort did look like he was walking to his death. But wasn't he already...
Voldemort dropped the cigarette butt, grounding it beneath his shoe before kicking it off The Train. He suddenly then turned to face Harry and Harry found himself shrinking away slightly as he loomed over him.
Gripping his jaw with a long fingered hand, Voldemort said quietly, "Yes, Harry. I am about to die. In every true sense of the word."
Voice slightly muffled against the fingers, Harry stuttered, "W-what? How's that even possible?"
"It's possible," Voldemort said in the same quiet voice and Harry had to strain his ears to catch all the words over the moving train. "When you've committed as many wrongs as I have, reached the 'point of no return' as they call it, your very existence is jeopardized. Mine has been deemed unfit to continue..."
Voldemort released his jaw, now leaning with his back on the rails. He let out a quiet, half-mad laugh, his sunken face twisting. "And who else should witness this wondrous day, but you... The very cause of my impending non-existence."
Harry opened his mouth uncertainly, completely taken aback by the revelation. "How... Why is it my fault? It was your choice to become what you did."
"You sacrificed yourself willingly," Voldemort growled, "I made someone give up life - willingly. There is no greater sin."
Harry took a sharp intake of breath. He didn't know what to say or even think. There is no greater sin...But it was necessary what he'd done! How else could he have stopped the endless slaughter and war?
A hand came to cup his cheek, far gentler than the one before. Leaning down slightly, the other man whispered in hoarse voice, "It's not your fault. I deserve it. But... Its just not any easier, despite knowing that."
Harry found his throat constricted, heart twisting painfully. His heart may not beat anymore but it was still capable of responding to emotions.
Voldemort's face was less than two inches from his now and he could feel his cigarette breath fan on his face. Nose to nose, Voldemort leaned closer and closer... until he lightly pressed his lips against Harry's, making no other move to touch him.
It was a chaste kiss, lasting bare seconds. When Voldemort stepped back, Harry's hand automatically gripped the rail, thinking he might faint.
What in the bloody...
"I suppose I never really got over it," Voldemort said quietly, interrupting his whirlwind of thoughts. "The object of my obsession of eighteen years taken away so cruelly from me..."
Finding his voice, Harry accused, "You wanted to kill me!" Not kiss me...
"There is no difference," Voldemort said with a smirk, "A kill or a kiss. Either one marks you as mine."
"Only you would think that," Harry muttered, but did not deny the part about being 'his'.
He looked up to see Voldemort smiling and his heart gave a pang again. Great timing, find someone whose company you don't mind... moments before they're put out of existence.
"You're not disgusted," Voldemort noted after a while.
Harry looked up at him, surprised, "You're not that bad of a kisser, really. But then again, I've only ever kissed girls so that might say something else..."
Voldemort face stretched into a grin, "Let me clear your doubts."
Their second was stronger, much more possessive. Voldemort's hand gripped his hair and Harry noted at the back of his mind that it still shook. He gave him no chance to move away this time around,the act far more urgent than before. His mouth was forced open and explored thoroughly by a keen tongue, leaving him a taste of the smoky residue of the Marlboro. Another hand gripped his waist, pulling him flush against Voldemort.
It was minutes this time when they finally broke off, each gasping for breath. Through his ragged breathing, Voldemort flashed Harry a triumphant look. Harry had the sudden impulse to tackle him to the ground and wipe the smirk off his face with a kiss of his own. Curbing the odd thought, Harry focused on calming his flushed cheeks, looking away from Voldemort.
"Should we go inside for a while then?" Voldemort asked quietly and Harry nodded, following him back to the car.
Voldemort came to a stop near the benches for the observation car and said, "I'd rather stay here..."
Harry gave a shaky nod again and they sat down, this time beside each other. They were quiet for a while and Voldemort absently took out his lighter, playing with it.
Finally calm, Harry watched the fire come into existence and pop out by turns and asked, "Will you tell me now? Where you've been all this time?"
Not taking his eyes off the lighter, Voldemort said, "I've already told you. The Abyss."
"Then why The Train?"
"To contemplate my existence, understand the severity of my actions... among other such things." Voldemort replied listlessly, now flicking at the edge of the flame with the nail of his index finger.
"Why make you understand if you're not going to exist anymore anyway?" Harry asked and Voldemort shrugged. "I feel it was more or less to just give me some time to be... before I'm not."
"I wish it wouldn't happen." Harry said with a sigh and found Voldemort looking at him with astonished eyes.
"I would have thought that you of all people would able to justify this action..." Voldemort said a little disbelievingly.
Harry shrugged, "But what's done is done, I suppose. And anyway, I haven't found anyone till now that could keep me interested in this world for so long. I don't want to be bored again..."
Voldemort gave a short, derisive laugh, "I'm sure you could wish for plenty good kissers, once you're back."
Harry's eyes widened and he flushed once more, "That's not what I meant!"
Voldemort chuckled and asked, "What did you mean then?"
"I... I enjoy talking to you," Harry said in a small voice.
"You said moments ago that I couldn't make conversation," Voldemort pointed out and Harry replied, "I changed my mind. Now that I think of it, you're not all that bad, really."
"My, a complement," Voldemort mocked. "They weren't lying then. The best way to any woman's heart is a kiss..."
Harry went completely red, "I'm a man!"
"No, you are a boy."
"I was eighteen years old when I died and man enough to face you in battle." Harry said indignantly.
"Be that as it may. Compared to me, you'll always be just a boy," Voldemort said nonchalantly and Harry growled.
Harry turned away from him slightly, leaning back into the seat. Voldemort shifted to face him, eyes on his slightly bruised lips once more. He looked at him questioningly and Harry nodded, leaning forward to press them against his old enemy's.
The third was sweet and painfully so. It left Harry's palms tingling, the ache in his heart growing by every passing second. His hands came up to twist in Voldemort's hair as Voldemort's own circled the back of his neck, pulling him closer. Voldemort's fringe invaded Harry's eyes as his lips ghosted over his jaw, cheekbone and then back again to his lips, nipping them with his teeth. A calloused thumb ran over his chin and then down his neck to where his pulse had once beat, lingering there possessively. The other gripping the back of his neck slid down his back slowly and Harry squirmed, unintentionally pushing himself more firmly against Voldemort. Harry's breaths became more and more ragged as the hand continued it's path, finally coming to a stop behind his knee. Lodging itself there, Voldemort pulled him closer, almost into his lap.
In this way, the kiss went on and each lost track of time, not bothering with seconds, minutes or hours. It was tenderly done, with both bodies rocking slightly, almost following the rhythm of The Train on the tracks.
When they finally broke apart, each of the two lonesome souls had a guarded look in his eye. They were both falling or had even fallen... and the painful irony and sheer absurdity of the situation was not lost on them.
Getting up abruptly, Harry said, "I'll, er..." he trailed off in the end, hastily standing up to leave.
A cold hand gripped his own and he looked back to see Voldemort staring him squarely in the eyes. "I don't have much time."
Biting his tongue, Harry sat down again but Voldemort made no move to kiss him again. They just sat there, hands clasped and eyes staring off into the distance.
Bright lights and shadows came to life from behind them again and Harry glanced back to see that The Train was passing through another settlement. Turning back around, his eyes fell on something he had failed to notice before and his hand increased the pressure on Voldemort's subconsciously. Voldemort looked at him in question and Harry pointed to the opposite wall, where silver chain hung.
"An emergency chain."
When Voldemort did not comment, Harry went on, "We couldn't just... pull it, you think? Stop this train and just... go off somewhere?"
Voldemort shook his head slightly and Harry asked childishly, "Why not?"
"Well for one, I see no chain."
"Oh." Harry said, heart sinking. "Is jumping off still an option...?"
Not deeming the silly question important enough to answer, Voldemort leaned back, resting his head on the glass window and closed his eyes. Harry stared at him... taking in the handsome but tired face, the long-lashes he had never noticed before, the faint stubble covering his chin...
Voldemort suddenly have a tug on Harry's arm and Harry found his face pressed into the other's shoulder. He inhaled, trying to memorize the peculiar scent. Voldemort's arms came up behind him and they stayed that way for another few miles.
After some time, Harry mumbled, "Why am I feeling like this?"
"If only I knew, could I tell you." Harry could feel Voldemort's warm breath on his neck as he spoke and held him tighter.
"I think I know now, why you're here," Voldemort said softly then and Harry broke apart to look at him.
He waited for him to go on, noticing that his eyes had darkened slightly. He looked older than he had before, deeper lines etched across his face.
"I had first thought you were sent here as a mockery, one last taunt that you would see me at my weakest. I was wrong... You were sent here instead as my greatest punishment, sent to make me feel the one thing I'd sworn never to feel..." Voldemort's hand left his to run through his hair, clutching it slightly.
Harry swallowed hard at the words and asked softly, "Which is?"
Harry felt his breath hitch, eyes pricking. So then there were tears here, in the land of eternal happiness. Or perhaps they only existed for that one day, when the sky too had weeped. Harry turned his face away from Voldemort, pain blooming in his chest. Oh Merlin, did it ever hurt...
Voldemort suddenly coughed into his shoulder and Harry looked at him, frowning. He turned back, rubbing soothing circles over his back. Eventually he calmed, breathing a little ragged.
In a raspy voice, Voldemort said, "Take me back to the first coach, will you? I'm not feeling too well."
Harry nodded, getting up and offering his shoulder for Voldemort to lean on. As they began the trek back to the first coach, Harry's thoughts bounced about his head painfully.
The Dark Lord felt... regret. Regret that he could not spend the rest of eternity with Harry instead, just somewhere rather than being nowhere at all.
A lump rose in Harry's throat and he swallowed it back with difficulty. What was the point of feeling regret now? Had he only felt it just some time ago, when they were alive... so much would have been different. Perhaps they would not have shared what they had just now but they would be alive... not alone.
Despite the tragedy of the situation, Harry had felt something warm inside him when the thrice-accursed word had fallen from Voldemort lips. Of all people, Voldemort had fallen for him... and he had fallen in return.
Stupid love. Dumbledore had been wrong. It was not the greatest force. If it was then Harry could have done something, anything to prevent the turn of events.
His vision blurred suddenly, glasses fogging up. Plucking them off, he wiped his eyes on his sleeve but now that he had started, the tears would not stop. He knew Voldemort could feel him crying beside him but the man showed no indication he knew. They just plunged on, the walk to the first coach now seeming endless.
Breath coming in short gasps, Harry cried silently. He cried for the unfairness of his death, for all the people he had left behind. Cried a little for Voldemort, of his becoming what he had... leading to their predicament. But mostly he cried for himself, allowing himself to be selfish for once as tears cascaded down his cheeks. He'd gotten something he hadn't known he'd wanted and now had to face it being taken away. He would be alone once more and this time, not even the boredom would make itself known again... only loss.
He closed his eyes shut and for the first time, wished with as much vigour as possible for the man walking alongside him. Please, please just let him be...
And suddenly, the lamps started flickering. Voldemort looked up at them slowly as they halted, each gripping a pole in caution. The Train gave a violent jerk out of nowhere and Voldemort hunched over, a bout of coughing gripping him once more. Harry rubbed his back again, speaking to him in a slow voice. The coughing went on for longer this time but stopped once again. Voldemort's chest was heaving now and Harry felt his stomach twist in worry.
"H-Harry... what did you do?" Voldemort gasped out and Harry merely looked back at him, confused.
"What... what were you thinking? Making The Train react like that?"
Harry understood in a flash and said quietly, "I wished it wouldn't happen... that you wouldn't-"
"Fool!" Voldemort roared, throat rasping again. Thankfully, he did not start coughing again. Taking deep breaths, Voldemort said quietly, "You can't undo it. It's my fate. But just by trying... you're putting yourself in danger."
"I don't care!" Harry said vehemently, kneeling beside Voldemort. "I don't care... Can't you see? I don't know how but just in this small amount of time I've come to lov-"
Voldemort placed a shaking hand over his lips and rasped out, "No. Don't make it complete. Not yet..."
Not understanding why but only the severity of the situation, Harry quietened. Helping Voldemort up, he started to lead him out again, out of the car with the dangerously flickering lights.
When they reached the first coach, Voldemort sat down with the sigh of an old man, short of breath. Harry looked at him carefully and saw that his hands had become more weathered. His eyes now had deeper lines around them. He'd gone from looking like a twenty-year old man to one who was forty-year-old within minutes. Harry's chest tightened painfully.
Seeing himself mirrored in Harry's emerald orbs, Voldemort ran a hand over his face, then brought it to the front of his eyes. He gave a short, manic laugh. "Aging... of all things."
Harry did not comment. He only stayed kneeling beside Voldemort, one shaking hand clasped in his own.
The Train rode smoothly.
"Tell me, Harry. What would you have done if you had met me in different circumstances... say in your part of the Otherworld, and everything had gone the same way it had?"
Forcing his voice to work, Harry replied, "There's a cottage, by a lake and near a small mountain where I live. I'd take you there, I suppose. It's nice, quiet."
Voldemort hummed in response, eyes closed and Harry's eyes roamed hungrily over his face, memorizing it.
"What would we do there though?" Voldemort asked softly, eyes still closed.
"Read books... play Quidditch, climb mountains, swim in the lake, do magic..."
Voldemort's nose wrinkled, "I don't like Quidditch..."
Harry gave a small laugh, "You'd have to learn to, to live with me."
Voldemort smiled a tired smile, "Why didn't you do these things yourself, Harry?"
"Because there was no one to do them with, obviously," Harry replied sadly.
"You couldn't wish for companions?"
"I could look for them, my parents... Dumbledore... but I just never did." Harry confessed.
Voldemort's eyes opened and Harry saw they had become darker, the crimson almost completely gone. The face was becoming more lined and the deep, low voice was wavering when he spoke next.
"It is a gift, Harry, your life. You deserve happiness."
Harry shook his head, "I could have maybe, given enough time, live my eternal life to it's full potential..." His voice cracked slightly as he went on, "How will I do so now? When everything will remind me of you?"
Voldemort's eyes closed again but when he opened his mouth to speak, another cough racked his body. The period was short but when Voldemort drew his hand away from his mouth, little flecks of blood covered his fingers.
"Don't say anything," said Harry firmly, getting up slightly to push Voldemort back in his seat.
"No," Voldemort gasped out, "Let me. I'll never get a chance to... again."
Harry stayed silent, not trusting himself to speak. "I want you to forget about me, Harry. Please. Let me do this one good deed before I part. I have no wish of you living in my memory."
He wanted to scream, demand why he had closed the distance between their lips in the first place. But he couldn't, of course he couldn't. Instead, he pleaded, "Please, please there had to be something! Just something I can do... before we reach the abyss."
The Train gave a jerk and Voldemort's hand gripped Harry's. "Harry. You must understand something. The Abyss is nothing... a wide expanse of nothing. But ask yourself, how can there be an expanse of nothing? No such thing exists. The Abyss is here, as it is there. We are a part of it. And since we all are a part of it... I'll never really be apart from you then, will I? We're of the same make... everything is. We're all a part of nothing... which is, essentially everything."
Voldemort's voice got hoarser as he spoke and Harry's eyes filmed over with tears. He could understand what Voldemort was saying but he did not want to. The pain...
And he was aging. The dark hair was becoming white, the lined face becoming wrinkled. Through it all, neither man's eyes left the other's. Their hands stayed clasped tightly and tears streamed freely from Harry's eyes.
Then Voldemort began to hunch over and Harry's mind suddenly brought forth the memory of the Dark Lord's rebirth, the image of the scaly, hunched over thing that Wormtail had brought forth in wraps. Life and death were nothing but a cycle.
Stooped over with baggy skin, the man he'd embraced moments ago looked pitiful. The darkened eyes looked at Harry without any recognition with them and Harry gave a shuddering gasp, releasing their hands. Leaning forward, he placed a chaste kiss on shrivelled lips and whispered, "I love you."
The body started to erode and decay in front of him, until naught were left but a pile of ashes. The windows and doors of the coach suddenly flew open and the last remnants of Tom Riddle swirled away into nothingness.
The-Boy-Who-Lived, The-Chosen-One, stayed on his knees as tears continued their path down his cheeks for a time that had no measurement.
Eventually the tears dried up and The Train came to a halt. With subconscious movements, Harry Potter stepped off The Train, which gave a shrill whistle and went off into the distance. He stood in the middle of the platform with his arms stretched out as rain began to pour down urgently. Dark clouds gathered, lightning struck and the the thunder which followed was reminiscent of a laugh. The laugh of the man once known as Tom Riddle.
A/N: So... that's done. Um, again not sure how this came to be. This was my initial idea for Conversations and Retribution but that went where it wanted to and this thing kept nagging me in the back of my head. It is a one-shot, so no continuation... but you can read C/R if you want to, it's similar and happier.
This is the first thing I've ever completed, from start to finish. So I'd like to know how I did. Please review and leave your thoughts, comments, smiley faces, sad faces and criticisms. I did write this today only... so it hasn't been edited too thoroughly and I'm sorry about any distracting, stupid mistakes and the hasty ending.
Please do review and thank you for reading.
P.S. Not done midterms yet and yes I'm an idiot for writing a sad story just because I did well on a math midterm :P I'll update my other stories as soon as I can!