Birth of Blackheart
DayDreamNinja: Harry Potter/Ghost Rider, Hints of Harry/Johnny, Harry/Blackheart(Tom). (Hints of Mephistopheles/Harry/Blackheart(Tom).
(Okay everyone, we're going to pretend this,–the graveyard Caretaker is Carter Slade, a Taxes Ranger, but we aren't going to say he's the First!Ghost Rider.)
Harry remembered he was dead before he opened his eyes only to see Albus Dumbledore – who he knows is also dead - smiling down at him. The old wizard reaches out his hand in offering, and Harry takes it: the skin is dry, the hand is strong but wrinkled, and he gets to his feet with that hand in his. He can see plainly where they are: Kings Cross, cleaner and empty of life, and the feeling of waiting pressing on him to speak.
"Is it limbo?" Harry had thought that there was death –the end, and there was life, but this was eerie. It was not either life or death, it was a place to pause, to catch your breath and be still.
"This is within you, but real in its own way for you have a choice to make." Dumbledore agrees while wordlessly offering a lemon drop, and silently Harry takes it. He puts it in his mouth, to taste, to use his living senses - as if a sweet that is so sugary and sour can prove this is happening or not. It's real to him, he knows.
"What choice?" Harry asks, Dumbledore sighs, and looks about them sadly. There is a baby's cry, and Harry looks toward it out of the corner of his eye.
"What's that?" He does want to know, and he does not. Dumbledore answers both.
"The choice is going on, or going back: you are a Horcrux, Harry – and that is a piece of Tom Riddle's soul. It is powerless, helpless. Voldemort did not know what he had done, using the Killing Curse upon his own soul: upon you - the Master of Death." Harry would feel cold if he was able, but he feels only calm.
"What would happen, if I were to go back?" Harry asks, looking to Tom's soul, looking at a infant, a child, crying and abandoned – not his own soul, but his – he has carried it before his earliest memories. It has been a part of him, and he worries for it.
"You would not be a Horcrux. You would kill Voldemort and live your life as you wish it." Dumbledore takes from his robe the Elder Wand, and smiles at it as if remembering all the good things that had happened in his long life. Harry can have that sort of life, happy, and long.
"What if I do not go back?" Harry is young, and year after all he's fought in some way for his survival since he was eleven years old. He is tired, he has seen death, and does not want to see more. His friends may yet live, or they may die: and worse, he – like Dumbledore – could outlive all he loved in friends and family.
"You will go on, but Voldemort will still die. I do not know if he will go on, or if this is his final death." Harry may chose to go on, but what Dumbledore means, is that this is perhaps Tom's only chance for the same: and it's his choice to make – not the wizard born named Tom Riddle.
"What your saying then, is that is…Tom's soul, and if I go on, it goes on, we both do – and if I go back, it just…ends, for him." Harry asks this, for he wants to be sure. Blue eyes twinkling, Dumbledore nods. Light flashes across his glasses, and Harry gets a glimpse of the train arriving behind him.
"If I stay, I go back – if I get on the train, I go on." Dumbledore simply smiles and nods, sure that Harry will make a choice. What choice Dumbledore would have him make, Harry does not dare ask. He gathers the swaddled bundle of Tom Riddle's soul, in his arms, against his chest, the baby's cries quiet.
He watches Harry with big ruby eyes, they are cautious and curious. Harry's own eyes are as green as growing things, but if between them is not a bond, there is – at least – an understanding.
Harry gets on the train with Tom, running his hand over the cold metal rail, taking three steps and then the seat to the left side; they two aren't alone. In a suit of black and white a man awaits them, hands clasped together as if caught clapping, and a wicked smile crossing his lips. He isn't really human, Harry knows, like he is a wizard, this man is something more then merely a man.
"Well, well," he bows his head in greeting, but the leer of his eyes does not leave Harry's own "a good man dies, eh, Master?" Harry leans back in his seat, watching this man who is watching him.
"I don't know you." It's a fact, and the man grins in the face of it.
"No, no - not yet…but you will. You and I are partners." The man leans forward, and his eyes are dark and Tom fusses at his nearness, uneasy.
"This place is like a lake, this limbo, anyone can come in, but not everyone learns to swim – some, Master, some drown. You don't belong here. This place – it wants you gone, you are Death, but it won't let you leave – not yet – not with the baby." His face flickers, and it isn't a man's face, isn't a human face. He reaches out a hand.
"You've got to trust me here." The child soul of Tom would fit in this man's hand, Harry has time to notice. Time, it seems, may be all he has.
"I don't even know your name." His nostrils flare, as if scenting those words for truth or lie. He tilts his head, studying him with an inhuman gaze.
"You don't, do you?" Lips part and are licked, and Harry can't look away. There is something that attracts him, repels him, and Harry couldn't put a finger to it, there is right and wrong- between them is, something, a bridge.
"Okay then, truth time – a very long time ago, there was me – Mephistopheles, and there was the Lord in heaven and Satan in hell, and those two sides, they made a pact, following me?" Harry only nods, and with a smile the devil goes on.
"Earth is neutral, a battlefield, but sort of like forbidden fruit – we both want it bad, but it's just not good for us. Neither of us are quite ourselves on Earth, but you, you like to play hide-and-seek, but I've found you, so you've got to hear me out. Now, Satan and the Lord and all that rot, it's just a bunch of titles that got caught up in religion and mortals and morality, there is where you belong, in heaven as Master of Death, and me? In hell, I'm Mephistopheles, the devil – and dealing in soul's already damned, it's a good bit of business. Souls are like seeds, okay?" Mephisto leans in closer, so his breath whispers in Harry's ear.
"Life, and if you have enough souls you get a child; one of ours, one of us." Mephisto closes his eyes, his form flicking, now a suited man, now something terrible and wicked with wings and too lovely to look at. Harry shivers to see it, something within in him waking, reaching out like to like.
"You do this, you bring this soul tied to yours onto Earth, and he'll become one of us, Master. It's a power you can't have alone. It'll rip a way onto Earth, a hole that anyone – anything, could burrow into. There has to be a balance between us. You'll have a child," Mephisto reaches for the babe, for Tom, and touches him with his hand, skeletal fingers thin and sharp talons tucked safely away from the skin; "and I will have a ghost tied, a shadow to ride – one of them, one of the wicked souls sold to me. Do we have a deal?" Tom's skin shivers like sand, something quaking beneath the surface, waking. Tom reaches out a little hand, fingers seeking. Harry had made his choice, and this he knows – it is Tom's choice now. Mephisto lets the babe grip his finger, grinning at the strength of the grip.
"You will leave me be?" Mephisto laughs.
"Is that what you really want, Master?" Tom fits into Mephisto's arms, as if they were made for each other. Harry has to wonder, how he would fit; if there was a place for him with them. He both dreads that thought and longs for it.
"No." Harry answers the devil, sitting back in his seat and closing his eyes.
When he opens them, he is on Earth, and he remembers everything that has been - that Mephistopheles had hinted to, and more, so much more: between Harry and Mephisto is a deal within a deal; with demons nothing is ever so simple as it seems.
Harry Potter was that damned deal-maker, the Ghost Rider, and to him all time was for the taking. He was first and foremost, the ledged behind the lore. Mephisto could have his pick of ghost riders, bounty hunters, hell fire at its best – or rather worst. Any mortal man or woman who'd made a deal could be chained into the fires, could become but an aspect of Harry's own power.
He was well aware of the irony, that Mephisto had chained him to hell with his own deal, had bound him by hell fire and set him loose upon Earth, he was tied both to hell and heaven, but there would never be a home for him in either.
He can't break the deal, for it would mean the death of Blackheart.
Blackheart took his name and nature on the night that the whole of Christ's Crown, New York fell, and the lot of them will never climb wholly out of hell. So many souls brought low birthed him into hell. What first he felt was loss, but not for the claiming of souls which would have been passing strange, no it was for something he could not name.
He goes up to Earth, where once Christ's Crown rested, and standing in the midst of smoking ruin is hell's fire, the bounty hunter Ghost Rider. He sits astride a broomstick, and is clothed in robes and cloaked in black, the clothes do not smoke or burn, for all that his body is but fire and bone.
Blackheart falls to his knees before this power, for there are ghost riders- the bounty hunters and hounds of hell, and then there is the Ghost Rider, to whom Mephisto had bound to him with a deal. Yet the Ghost Rider was not a demon or devil, he did not heed Blackheart's father, he was hell fire itself, the stuff of heaven's wrath, his power more then enough to give Mephisto all the ghost riders he wanted in a generation.
The skull, fiery and grinning, turns to see him, as Blackheart knew it would. It feels as if the entire world waits for the Ghost Rider's words, as most certainly Blackheart thinks it should.
"What do you seek upon the surface of the Earth, son of Mephistopheles?" There is much smoke as Christ's Crown burns, so Blackheart can not be sure that the sky does not dim from smoke of fire, or that the very heavens cloud to hide them away. The scar of Christ's Crown, and its curse, is that is ever burning, even now, when Blackheart who was born of its ashes, is full grown. It will ever be a scar, ever smoldering. He wonders if Ghost Rider has been living here long, or only visits, and if he has been waiting for someone – as it seems – and hopes too that he is not late.
"Mephisto said I would find answers here." He didn't, but Blackheart is sure he will find them.
"You have a heart." Ghost Rider sounds sure, and full of something like a warning.
"I am soulless." Blackheart hisses, for he once had a soul – of that he is sure – and he thinks sometimes he misses it.
"So too am I." The Ghost Rider sighs, and the broom hovers just over the ground that his feet could touch, but do not. The empty black sockets of the skull stare at him and Blackheart can not help looking black though he knows to be wary, to do this is dangerous. Then the body of fire and bone goes out like a candle's flame, and there sits on a broom a boy of seventeen.
He smiles, and Blackheart smiles back, their eyes meeting, and then Blackheart remembers - he remembers Harry Potter, and knows this – the Earth, the play of good verses evil – it's all a game to the likes of them. It's a game he and his soulless siblings play most earnestly, be they the lot of hell or heaven, for it's the only acknowledgement they can claim; to do right or do wrong. It's a game played in all seriousness.
Blackheart knows his name was once Tom Riddle that he had a soul and shared a body – a living-dying bond with Harry Potter: he remembers before his birth as Blackheart.
It is then, face to face with Harry Potter – that, for the first time, Blackheart flees.
The Caretaker tips his hat to the gravestone marked for Carter Slade, it's the kind of hat cowboys used to wear, and the smile he give that tombstone is the sort of smile given between old friends. There is no Carter Slade bones buried here, no bones at all, only a engraved mark upon the marker, a triangle, a circle, a line, where there would have been a Christian cross on any other grave stone. There is no body under this grave, it's the marker that is important, the marker that calls like to like.
"Hey old man." Those, he knows, are strange words coming from a man with white hair of his own. He does not care, as he squats to address the tombstone. "Wish you were here, I've got a real puzzler, and between the two of us, you were the wiser." His voice bubbles like a river brook, whispering just below the weather, hushed but insistent.
He puts his hand on the tombstone, and it burns under a touch of bone and fire. Bone hand grips bone hand, and the Caretaker heaves up the Ghost Rider from the depths.
"You called?" He crouches on the grave stone, still young, and Carter Slade feels the stirrings of envy that got him his deal, that made him who he is: a ghost rider, the Caretaker. He's the first ghost rider, but only the first mortal – this immortal, this is the Ghost Rider that leaves all others but a pale shadow of imitation.
"These's this boy, Johnny Blaze, he's become another ghost rider. I think Mephisto made a mistake." Carter smiles at the possibly, and the Ghost Rider tilts his head in inquiry.
"He's got a good heart, this boy, one might even say righteous; he made the deal to save his old man. What do you think?" Harry inhales, as if he can scent the latest generation of ghost rider, and maybe he can and does. Carter may have made the first deal, but there are things about the Ghost Rider that even he doesn't know, and doesn't bother to guess.
"I think he and I will be meeting." In a wisp of smoke, the Ghost Rider goes. Slade only shakes his head with a laugh. He hopes Johnny-boy will swim instead of sink, for sure he doesn't know whom he's going to be encountering.