Summary: Death is but the next great adventure, but for one Harry Potter death on Earth only opened up a doorway to hell on Middle Earth. Will he ever find peace or would getting out of the caves take its toll?
Disclaimer: As usual I own nothing concerning Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. I only use and abuse the character for my own twisted ideas.
Warnings: torture and abuse, death, SLASH for future reference.
Cold is the water, it freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep and it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance – Timshel, Mumford and Sons
Everything hurt. From the tips of his toes to the crown of his head. Even his hairs seemed to protest with each movement and he groaned pathetically. He had always imagined that death would be peaceful. Like Sirius had once told him in the Forbidden Forest when he had stood as a child of almost eighteen, willingly walking to his death. Maybe it had been something to sooth him, but he still remembered when the Killing Curse claimed his life. The peace he had felt at being relieved of the burden which was Tom Riddle - aka Voldemort - his soul.
It wasn't until he heard the whispers and screeching that Harry finally opened his eyes. There was darkness all around and he could hear a faint dripping in the distance of water splashing onto stone somewhere in the endless tunnels. Cold, hard rock pressed onto sore muscles, bruised and battered from his last fight against death which he had lost but also seemingly won. He was alive but no longer was he on the fields of Scotland's Highlands. He wasn't even sure if he was still in Britain for the earth felt different around him, cold and empty, its magics exhausted as if it had been cast aside in this forgotten labyrinth of tunnels.
"Now look what you did," Harry muttered to himself, his raspy voice echoing hollowly through the surrounding space around him. It sounded strange in his ears, foreign and old. Older than he had been before his death, yet younger than he remembered being. "Couldn't do anything properly in life, you had to be unique in death as well. Potter luck huh? Could have done without it for a while." And Harry willed his limbs to work for him once more. He didn't get far, barely halfway upright, when he heard a sound different from his own harsh breaths and the dripping of water against stone. It was a clicking and scratching which echoed around the tunnels in a way no human could ever hope to sound.
Harry turned, his green gaze searching the surrounding dark, slowly getting adjusted to the endless night. A soft hissing, almost purring, sound echoed through the tunnels behind him and, narrowing his eyes in suspicion, Harry remained staring towards the tunnel for a few minutes/seconds to see if the sound would move away in any direction. It didn't, but it didn't disappear either so he relaxed his tense shoulders and focused his attention to where he was standing. The uneven rocky terrain was remarkably carved, rough like it had been man-made rather than letting nature run its course. The walls seemed to shine dimly with, what Harry presumed to be, water. Upon closer inspection, meaning shuffling carefully towards the stone walls as his muscles and bones protested against the movement, water wasn't the only thing which caused the stone to glow. It was like lines of pure silver which dripped from the cracks. No wonder there were rough hacks in the walls of the tunnels. Miners must have tried to collect it all, whatever the silvery stuff was.
While Harry didn't know a lot about mining, he knew from conversations he had once with a few Goblins that you could always hear anything in the mines, especially when they were active mines. Now the only thing which could be heard was his own harsh breaths and the odd purring sound that had yet to stop. In fact, it only seemed to grow louder. Whatever, or whoever, was making it was getting closer by the second.
Supporting himself by the wall, Harry carefully willed his legs forward to move towards the sound. It seemed an odd and foolhardy thing to do, but he had remained a Gryffindor throughout all these years. Lonesome or not, Harry was always in for an adventure. Even the unwilling ones he was dumped into when he younger. By the time that war ended he had all but screamed to the world that he didn't care for adventures anymore. He just wanted the quiet life of normalcy.
Which lasted for about a month after his eighteenth birthday when he signed up for his NEWT year at Hogwarts together with most of his year-mates who had failed to take their NEWTs during the height of the war. It had taken the entire summer for all the ruckus to die down and for Harry to find some calm in his life, only for it to be interrupted by rebellion after rebellion after endless rebellion. First it was the surviving werewolves who were being hunted down for their active part in the war. Than other magical creatures followed. The Ministry, which had been under a lot of scrutiny after the war and had been steadily rebuilding itself under the watchful eye of Kingsley Shacklebolt, was steadily being ripped apart again as Departments started to fight among themselves.
Harry stood once more to protect the voices of the innocent. Not even allowed to finish his education he, Ron and Hermione marched to serve their country. Or at least the nation they had become a part of since they turned eleven. With Ron as his left hand and Hermione as his right hand, Harry concurred the Wizarding World with his head held high and his heart on his sleeve. Between the three of them they revolutionised Britain's Wizarding World. But at the cost of their youth, their health and their privacy. Not that Harry had any to begin with…
He had fought hard to protect his friends, to protect their identity, but in the end they were gobbled up by the nation and left with Fleur who moved her family to France. Harry was left on his own, sacrificing what little life he had left to safe his friends from drowning in the political sea they had been battling against.
Ten years it took him to gain control over everything and for Wizarding Britain to pick itself up and assemble into a workable order. Life had returned to normal for everyone but him. His body was exhausted beyond the point where he couldn't feel his legs and his brain no longer registered that it was a new day. He hadn't been able to sleep and eating became a chore in itself. When his friends finally returned to his side they barely recognised him and guilt kept them from leaving his side. It wasn't until then that his life started to make sense again.
Finally allowed to lead the life he was meant to after the war against Voldemort, Harry spend a year abroad recuperating while Ron and Hermione kept an eye out. They had started a family by that time and their children were growing up to be strong minded and with a fiery temper, fiercely brilliant in a way that would have made Molly Weasley proud had she still been alive. Going abroad turned out to be the worst mistake he could have ever made though.
Fate screwed him over once again and after a freak accident, Harry ended up spending a year in some foreign 'scientific' facility. They spoke of cell mutations and energetic powers through mental waves as they ran tests after tests, not caring that they were preforming them on a British Lord of an Ancient and (partially) Noble family. His name meant nothing to them and his cries even less. Not that he cried for them to stop, or to have mercy on him. Not even Voldemort had been able to make him cry out in anything but pain.
By the time the facility was raided by the local justice department and he was freed from the prison, send home with an apology and compensation for any rehabilitation he might need, Harry was a mess. His magic was drained, constantly working to heal his wounds and sustaining him for as long as it was possible. His legs, which had already been damaged, were unable to keep his body weight and it took him most of his life to regain some of their strength. Harry wondered if it was because five quiet years had passed that something like this was happening to him again. Curse him for saying that things had been too quiet lately. At least he was able to walk again, albeit a little shakily.
The incident which had led him to wander the Scottish Highlands aimlessly had been wiped from his mind, by his own magic or another's. All he remembered were the smells of death and decay and sounds of desperation. The once beautiful landscape was transformed into a black crater, smoking and choking as if the earth itself was trying to cough up the disease which had seeped into its cores. It was this that Harry had heard, this that had awoken him from his shock and horror. The Earth crying out in desperation and pain much like he had done in the laboratory.
A startled human cry, a gunshot which had him gasping for air and before Harry knew it he woke in these dark tunnels. Weak as always, smelling of blood and sweat, trying to find his way towards something which could lead him out of here.
"What's it doing, precious?" a voice hissed, the underlying purr identified as the sound which Harry had been walking towards. The being, because it didn't sound quite human, hissed and coughed and sounded oddly like a sick cat. But at least Harry could understand what it was saying. "Always wandering, always stumbling. Like a poor little lamb its stinking white coat already dirty and grimy. Better to be fish, for it will taste so nice."
Harry froze in his movement, his harsh breathing sounding too loud in his ears for his comfort and his heartbeat hammering in his throat as if it were trying to leap away. For a moment he did not recognise the feelings coursing through him but then he knew… it was fear. Fear for the thing which was sneaking around in the dark.
A screech startled him and he pressed himself closer to the tunnel wall, the rough stone digging its way into wounds he hadn't noticed before.
"It sounds like a bird," the being hissed, seemingly edging closer. "It does, precious, it does! A young little bird fallen from the nest. Will it have broken a wing or its feisty little neck. Not much meat on a little bird though, precious. No, not at all! But oh so juicy."
The last words was hissed so close that Harry stumbled out into the open tunnel, falling flat on his face breaking his nose. He grunted in pain and squeezed his eyes shut before willing his body to turn and stare out into the darkness which surrounded him. Water splashed around him and the soft dripping which had been swallowed up by the purring voice returned with a vengeance. Something hovered above, its luminous eyes reminding him eerily of a house-elf, before Harry felt clammy yet strong fingers grip around his throat.
"Will it taste nice, precious?" the being hissed, its breath smelling of rotting fish. "Will it taste good?" But the being was soon distracted by another screeching sound which seemed to be coming closer. Fighting for a breath as oxygen was sucked back into his longs, Harry kicked the creature away, sending a shock caused by accidental magic through the being. It screeched in pain and fear, jumping back and into the shadows of the caves with a hiss like an angry cat.
Harry let himself drop back onto the hard stone floor, lights flickering as his vision returned and the numbing sensation in his limbs withdrew. As he lay there, listening to the screeching and crawling sounds coming closer, he knew that he would probably regret not moving at all but he was just too tired. Tired of people using and abusing him. Tired of being fate's plaything. He was simply just tired of living all together. So as he lay there in the darkness, basically giving up on life as it was, he closed his mind. He pushed away thoughts which could tempt him into not giving up. Harry let the creatures which roamed this piece of the Earth reach him, sniff at him and paw with their claws at him.
In one instance, one mad dash of fevered survival, Harry resisted. His muscles spurred on the actions of his limbs which seemed to move on their own accord. He whispered words, mad attempts at incantations he knew would no longer work for him. But he tried nonetheless. The creatures fought back of course, getting more excited the more he resisted capture, but they could probably tell that Harry was too tired to fight. So they fixed his ability to kill their kin with a single word.
With a mad glee in their eyes which Harry would remember forever, the creatures cut off his tongue.