AN: Wow, it's been a while, huh? This is a story first conceived in NaNoWriMo 2012...and completely rearranged and reconsidered until it became a new story this 2013. It's not complete, but I've written more for this than any other story thus far, and I'm needing some more motivation. Expect slow updates, but I don't intend to abandon this. If you're interested in my other stories, I promise they will also be updated one day, but admittedly that day is not today. Cover credit to DeviantArt's nadiaismyname.

Chapter 0 Length: 1,641
Date Published: 11.28.2013
Disclaimer: If I had any ownership of Harry Potter...do you think I'd be writing this? As for Inception...that would mean I'd have met Joseph Gordon-Levitt...hah only in my dreams. Don't own.

Happy Thanksgiving! Please review, and give any helpful criticism.


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Lone Train

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0. Premise

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He gasped awake, arms flailing and eyes jerking around, only to land on a shabbily clothed man standing a ways away. He was one of four men in the room—and Harry, oh god, Harry—but the only one awake. The man's hands were on a strange device with wires stringing out, hanging limply in the space between the machine and the people they were connected to. Following the trail of one wire, eyes landed once more on the brown-yet-graying-haired man, who was holding one of the IV needles in his hand.

Sirius at once jerked back and launched forward, filled with incredible fury and rage, "Remus?!"

Remus stumbled back, eyes widening, before his eyes abruptly narrowed. Remus barked out in a sharp voice. "Hey! We don't have time for this—" Sirius was about to make time, fist tightening until Remus brought up the very reason he was pissed, "—I pulled your IV, now get Harry's!"

Harry's name stopped Sirius short. Then he had to rewind the sentence, but no matter how many times he went over the concerned words, Sirius couldn't understand. "What?" Sirius asked eloquently. He shook his head, "What the fuck, Remus? You—you pulled my IV?"

Remus was getting more than annoyed; Sirius could tell because the man's movements were jerky and rough as he shoved some chemical-stained cloth on the faces of the other three men in the room. "You remember, don't you?! They grabbed you and Harry—and that case; that must be the dream technology they've been talking about! You need to get Harry off that IV!" Of course Sirius remembered. But Remus's genuine, viscerally alarmed reactions quickly clued Sirius in—his friend hadn't been part of the set-up. He hadn't been betrayed by one of his closest friends.

The realization that Remus had saved him was enough to get him moving to his godson's side, quickly spying the IV taped to his wrist. "I just need to pull it out? It's safe?!"

"The IV's what's pumping him full of the compound—get him off that, he should stop dreaming. Just pull out in the right direction so he doesn't bleed!" Sirius did exactly that, fearful eyes immediately flicking upwards to watch his godson's face. But there was no reaction from the eleven-year-old, certainly not the mini-seizure Sirius had thrown.

"Why the fuck didn't you get him out first?! How long does it take?!" Sirius was panicking; Remus noted this with a glance of his eyes. Even so, he didn't react to Sirius's anger—not when Remus was just as tense, just as concerned.

"Some people have different reactions to the drug." Remus hesitated in his movements, just for a moment, but it was enough for Sirius to notice.

"What?!" Sirius twisted towards Remus's direction and his hands were still stiffly fisted. But his eyes weren't filled with rage for Remus—just desperate, heartbreaking alarm.

Those eyes searched Remus's, begging for the information Sirius knew Remus had. The very interest in dreaming that had made Sirius doubt his friend, also put Remus in the position of being the most well-informed at the moment. Slowly, as he bound one of the men's hands, Remus spoke. His eyes did not leave Sirius's; they were just as fearful, just as guilty, but the scariest part was that they were heartbrok-en. "No…Remus…" Sirius's eyes begged his friend to tell him what was wrong, and to also tell him that nothing was wrong.

"Sirius…I've never heard of this compound being tested on children… I don't…"

They were interrupted as one of the men groaned in awakening. Numbly, Sirius walked forward.

'…never heard of this compound being tested on children…'

The words echoed in his mind. Harry's screams echoed in his mind—so loud. Sirius's dark eyes slid over to the unmoving boy, unconscious on a dirty old lawn chair. It was like he was surrounded by a waterfall—he wasn't sure what he was hearing, but that there was noise.

Sirius knew he dragged multiple men to the ground.

Sirius knew he tied them, threatened them, screamed at them.

Sirius knew that Remus was there every moment, sometimes screaming too, sometimes just watching.

And Sirius knew that at the end of it, his hands were bloody, Harry still hadn't moved, and the only reason one of them was still alive was because Remus was smart enough to leave the guy as a messenger.

"James…Lily…"

Sirius knew many things, but the only thing he could think about was that pair of shining green eyes set with a little boy's smile—something Sirius didn't know if he'd ever see again.

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The phone rang in Sirius's ear as he stared up at the white ceiling. It was patterned with dots. He imagined some patients might wake up to the sight of this, and start counting dots.

"We're sorry. The number you have called cannot be reached at the moment. Please leave a message after the tone."

Sirius swallowed. A short beep played and Sirius stayed silent. Then, he began talking, throat sore and voice cracking like he hadn't said a word for years—like a word might never emerge from his little boy again—"Hey…Peter…"

He let silence take a few seconds.

"…I…I know you're in Cape Town right now…but you need to come back home… Harry's…hurt." He didn't say anymore, and it was just as well as the tone eventually sounded again and the message ended. In any case, Sirius couldn't stand to say anymore to the silence, the accusing silence that echoed with thoughts of self-hatred and despondence.

So.

Peter was coming. He'd been in Cape Town, looking into the competition for Sirius, so he figured it could be a while before Peter arrived in London.

Remus was going around the underground right now. He insisted, in a hoarse whisper, that Sirius needed to be at Harry's side. Remus would take care of finding who did this—who had sold them out.

James. Lily. They died ten years ago of a hit-and-run. A hit, orchestrated by murderers, too scared that James's rising entrepreneurship and Lily's brilliance would've overcome their own.

If Sirius found out that Harry had been put under with him in this botched threatening attempt because of his connection to Marauders Inc., then Sirius would rip them to shreds in James's and Lily's names. If Harry had been grabbed because he was the heir to the Black Corporation? Then Sirius knew he'd send his own soul on to face his friends' tender mercies.

It had been over six hours. Harry Black was listed as comatose.

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BLACK HEIR STILL COMATOSE; FATHER IN DENIAL?

… "It's been years…I really do feel sympathy for Mr. Black, but..."

…otherwise healthy, but listed as in a persistent vegetative state…

…as his godfather and adopted father, Mr. Black has refused to comment…

… "Mr. Black is a wonderful CE, but he is run haggard caring for his son." …

…stocks have been dropping since his son's hospitalization…

…for the last few years, Harry Black has received care in a private hospital…

…has not showed any signs of improvement…

…long since advised to end life support.

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He breathed as the phone crackled.

"…Hello?"

Sirius tilted his head back. "Hey. Remus."

"…"

"I'm…I'm going to try one last time."

"…"

"If it doesn't work…if nothing changes…I'll accept it. I'll…"

"…"

"…I'll let him go to his mother and father."

"…"

"…" Sirius swallowed. His hand shook, the cell phone feeling cold against his skin. He was calling from the hospital again; he spent most of his time either here or at work. He didn't have much of a life outside of Harry.

It was early—he didn't know what time it was, but it had been getting lighter. He imagined it was almost time for sunrise.

The hospital room was cast blue by the clear sky, faint light reflecting off of the metal bed rails and trays. Off of the plastic tubes and masks. Shadows pooled under the bed and behind Sirius's legs, shifting with the movement of the dotted curtains hanging from the window.

Harry's face was pale. Not a snow white, but a deathly pale. His skin didn't shine like porcelain, but was emaciated and dull. His eyes. Sirius hasn't seen those eyes of Harry's since the incident—he didn't look when the nurse did her checks. He didn't want to carry memories of dead green eyes.

"…Sirius. Who did you have in mind?"

Sirius averted his eyes from his godson, instead focusing on the papers in his lap. He shifted a few out of the way, careless of the sheets that spilled onto the gray, tiled floor. He squinted at the names he scrawled in the margins hours before. They weren't the same names on the passports and credit cards these people used, but it did match their birth certificates, and these were the names the underground referred to them as.

"…Sirius?"

"Apparently…they're the best. Dom Cobb and his team." Sirius has heard of many 'best' extractors. The only proof these three had to their names were the job records he pieced together, and the background Sirius dug up. "It seems…that they were involved in making dream-sharing what it is today. The little project a few years back."

"Yeah…I've heard of them. I'll get them and let Peter know, Sirius."

"Yeah. Thanks, Remus."

The phone hit the dial tone, but Sirius didn't drop his hand. Instead, his eyes roved over to Harry again. The little boy, now seventeen but sickly, wasted, and lifeless.

"This…is my last chance."

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Harry sat up—breathed—and stood as the white landscape around him grew and emerged as King's Cross Station.

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"I am about to die."

-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Next:

The Awakening: In the dream-like world of King's Cross Station, Harry makes a different choice. A train carries him between the boundaries of life and death, and into Harry Black's dying body…