Author's Note: For the HxT Lightening "Illusion" bi-weekly challenge. This was written due to my love for e.e. cummings' poetry.
Credits: Lines were taken from e.e. cummings’ poems: a leaf falls on loneliness, love is a place, and somewhere i have never travelled.
love in lower case
Harry Potter lathered his body for the second time under the warm spray of the shower. Merlin knew he needed the relaxation badly. Wincing slightly, he touched his cheek with a soapy finger. Whisker burns. It had been Lucius Malfoy this time and, for some reason, the damned writer chose to make them do it before the man had even shaved.
He sighed and reached for the shampoo. He wondered who it would be next time. Draco Malfoy? He had Draco most often and had seen the blond boy in a variety of hairstyles, clothes, and even sporting a few tattoos and piercings. But it could also be Snape. For some reason, the powers-that-be decided that his slimy Potions Professor possessed a raging sex appeal and chose to make Harry endure a number of encounters with him that might have made a lesser man faint. Yet it could easily be Ron, Sirius, Lupin, Hermione, or any of all the folks he knew and interacted with. It could even be Lucius Malfoy again.
He had bottomed, topped, and kissed so many men and women that he had stopped counting after the one hundred fiftieth declaration of love. He had to admit that it was exciting at first. After all, he got to do more shagging than schoolwork. What else could a character ask for in between publications?
But it was starting to get tiresome. It wasn't always wonderful. He had been raped a number of times, had his robes ripped in strategic places he wouldn't have allowed if it weren't in the script, and had to have sex with more than three men at once.
He found himself taking longer showers in between.
Harry stepped out of the shower and started to dress. Glancing at the mirror, he found that the whisker burns were gone and he looked suddenly taller and older. He was already inside the next story.
He clasped his robes and took a deep breath. He knew that as soon as he stepped out of the door, there would be no escape. He wouldn't be able to rest until it was through. And who knew how long it would be this time? Forty thousand words? A hundred thousand? He would surely have to take a lot of pain, emotionally and physically, before he would be required to say the token "I love you" and perform the intimate rituals that were as predictable as breakfast. It didn't matter who the person was anymore. It was all the same.
The question was: Did he want to do this again? And again. And again ... Forever?
Feeling more daring than he had ever been in his career, Harry opened the windows. He tried to peer at what lay below the mists from his tower but he couldn't see anything aside from the faint outline of a gigantic book. He hesitated. It would be something unfamiliar and alien; something entirely new. He glanced behind him at the bedroom door once more, knowing what was waiting for him behind it, and ...
He closed his eyes and leaped.
harry wandered for a while, always surrounded by strange mists of feeling. for a moment he felt incredibly sad, then he would jump to being tremendously in love before suddenly feeling lonesome. but, more often than not, he felt happy.
the first couple of weeks were a whirl of confused emotions before he finally learned to maintain a modicum of control over his feelings. these days, he spent more time feeling infatuated with the world, sitting under the trees on the grassy plains with lovers quietly talking some distance away.
in a way, he didn't regret the change; his relief at the serenity of his new existence and the predictability of his days eclipsed his longing for companionship. everyone else were just vague shapes, like silent drawings placed far apart. most of the time, he breathed in the apple-scented air while composing poetry in his head.
until the day a young man walked up to him and said, "fancy a fag?"
"i don't smoke," harry answered, and blinked.
"i don't either. it just seems like the right thing to ask a stranger." the man smiled disarmingly and sat on the grass in front of harry. his wavy dark hair ruffled in the breeze as he talked, "i just dropped in. have you been here long?"
"a few weeks," harry answered. he just noticed that his voice had taken a softer tone since he arrived. maybe the place did things to people.
"i figured. that was the time you suddenly disappeared. young malfoy waited for you in the astronomy tower for five days before he was sent into his next fic." a leaf blew and settled on the stranger's collar. harry noticed for the first time that they were wearing similar clothes: black wizard robes.
he looked up at the green-eyed young man and asked, apprehensively, "how do you know who i am?" was this man sent to take him back? he didn't want to return. he would have to carry him dead, then. harry couldn't take another scripted love story. he preferred this strange isolated longing over the endless clichés.
"don't you recognize me?" the stranger leaned towards him, his features sharpening as he drew closer.
from somewhere along the forgotten words of his previous life, harry connected the face with a name and gasped, "tom marvolo riddle! but i thought you died!"
"relax, i'm not going to kill you. i had to go somewhere after you kicked me out of the diary. so i jumped on the closest book i saw and started the grandest adventure of my lifetime." tom took a coin from his pocket and flipped it in the air, catching it deftly moments later. turning back to harry, he continued in an amused tone, "no hard feelings, of course. i'm glad it happened. it beats having to live in that boring diary. i've had a hell of a good time going from one world to another, meeting all sorts you'd never find in good old hogwarts. but i like to keep myself informed about the old turf. i hop back in once in a while."
harry could only gape at him. he actually did his old nemesis a favor by destroying the diary. damn. and he thought he had been all glowing and heroic back then, vanquishing the villain like he was supposed to do.
"you were the talk of the town," tom continued. "no one could make a decent fic with the star missing. i think they're still trying to find a way to cope. you sure fucked with the minds of a lot of folks back there. excuse the language, i just came from a tour of a gangster novel."
"i was getting tired of it all: the endless love affairs, the heroic acts that ended the same away. at some point, i stopped pretending they were real and just did what i was expected to do," harry explained, sweeping the blades of soft grass with his hand.
tom riddle just nodded and said nothing. harry knew he understood. they spent the next few minutes just sitting there, enjoying the breeze and watching the distant, blurry people outlined in the vanilla sky.
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
"how long do you usually stay in a book?"
tom thought before answering, "a week on average. if it's really good like pride and prejudice or the godfather, i stay longer. i was inside the lord of the rings for nearly four months—but that's with the three books combined."
"you must have had a lot of fun," harry said wistfully, imagining how it felt like to travel like that. the life of a nomad intrigued him, he only wished he had been adventurous enough to escape a long time ago.
"i had. it wasn't always good, mind you." tom chewed on a blade of grass as they strolled down through a flower-lined path. "i once wandered into dracula and had to run from a blood-sucking vampire for days before i spied the seam of white oleander floating nearby. now that was an escape."
"but you've been here for more than three months. aren't you getting bored?" harry asked curiously. he would be sorry to see tom go. perhaps he could persuade his new friend to take him along on the next trip.
tom looked around, assessing the canopy of trees that shaded them. the perpetual soft breeze ruffled their robes and their hair, the sound of flying leaves filling the silence. dusk was approaching. soon, it would be twilight, and this place had beautiful sunsets.
"i like it here," tom finally answered. he didn't look at harry as he spoke. "it's peaceful and lovely though it may not be perfect all the time. besides, i always liked poetry."
"poetry?" harry's brow furrowed. "where are we?"
tom choked and stopped walking. "you mean you don't know?!" his green eyes were wide with surprise as he stared as harry in disbelief. "you've been here for ages!"
"i didn't bother to find out. any change was good enough for me." harry shrugged. "so, where are we?"
"the illustrated poems of e.e. cummings," tom replied with a wry smile. "i thought it was a little obvious."
"i didn't really care."
much later, while the orange sunset brightened the sky, tom casually said, "this world suits you."
this piqued harry's interest. "really? why?"
tom gently brushed harry's cheek with one hand. "you stand out from all the pastels."
harry chose not to reply. he figured that it was too good a compliment to answer.
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
"you want to leave," harry said sadly one day.
"is it that obvious?" tom had his back turned to the other boy. he was watching a distant peak to the west.
harry nodded. "you're getting restless."
tom turned to him, taking his hand, "i don't want you to think that i'm unhappy here."
harry shook his head, his eyes troubled.
"but?" tom asked, raising his brows. "you want to say something but you're too afraid to say it."
"nothing. there's nothing." harry turned around. "you should go."
"dammit, harry! tell me."
"what if this isn't real!? what if what i feel is just something that happens for now and then someone will have the sudden bright idea to hook me up with another person and ..." he trailed off, confused.
"and what?" tom pressed.
"and i'll just spend a long time missing you," harry finished with a whisper, looking down. "sometimes i want to scream but i can't."
"you can't scream. capitals don't exist here." tom sighed. "harry, how could you even ask that? do you think that all of this is a game? that i'm just going to leave you here?"
"it happened before with others," harry insisted stubbornly.
"i'm not like the others," tom shot back. "we're living in a world of a dead writer where no one is allowed to interfere with his creation. what we have is no script. it's real, more real than the apple trees around you. more real than even you and me."
harry hesitated. his fear was a collection of a lifetime of frustrations. it was difficult to just let go and believe. "but you want to leave. who knows when you'd come back?"
"who said anything about coming back?" tom asked innocently.
"you're going to leave me!" harry accused, crossing his arms. "i knew it."
laughing, tom drew him close, holding harry to his chest tightly. "leave you? no, no ... i'm taking you with me."
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly
they reached the mountaintop days later. the peak ended in a cliff that dropped sharply—deeper than anything harry had ever seen since his creation.
"do you know what's waiting for us down there?" he asked anxiously as they looked down, hands clasped together.
"i suspect it's stardust," tom said, critically eyeing the mists below. "it would be great; closer to home but not quite the same." he turned to harry. "are you ready?"
harry tightened his hold. "as ready as i could be."
tom smiled reassuringly. "you did this before."
"it was not so high the last time," harry said. the wind whipped their robes about them as they prepared for the jump.
"are you sure about this?" tom asked for the final time.
"i love you, tom. of course i'm sure."
"wonderful." then, letting go of harry's hand, tom held the other in a tight embrace and they jumped as one ...
... to the next great adventure (and to a place where capitals just might exist).
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