You know, there should be a challenge for these. An unfinished fic swap, everyone submits the things they just can't finish and others pick it up and finish it for them. It'd be interesting. It'd be like that assignment in school everyone has to do, where they have to write the ending for "The Lady or the Tiger". (Everyone else did have to do that, right?)
Unfinished Fic Number One: A Harry Potter/Sandman crossover featuring the aftershocks of That Big Spoiler from OotP and one of the less likeable Endless. Tentatively titled "Opaque Windows". Unfinished because every time I try to continue it, my fingers shrivel and make me unable to type . . . or something like that.
He heard the voices that whispered, welcoming him, and the voices that yelled, desperate for him not to go. He could answer neither. The cold air sucked the breath from his lungs and made his eyes water and burn. He was struck by a strange thought that wondered if he would fall forever. It was followed by an even stranger desire to see that happen, because so long as he fell he did not land. And as the air grew colder and more still he began to think that this place looked familiar and this landing would be unwelcome.
He ended on a flat plain of gray. His ending was neither rough nor sudden and he was left wondering whether he had really fallen at all. Windows hung in every direction, vast uneven rows of windows of varying sizes. Some held figures that looked through without seeing him, moving through odd routines and talking in voices that he couldn't hear.
He knew this place. He'd never been here, but he knew it.
He didn't hear her approach, but he felt her. She felt like the absence of joy. Her voice was soft and swam through his mind and ears, leaving him shaken and brittle, old ghosts rearing their heads and whispering of hopelessness and betrayal. "I know you."
He knew her, too. Short and squat, teeth protruding from a bestial mouth. Hair thin and scraggly around a round head with flat, gray skin. Breasts hunt to a fat, scarred stomach and gray eyes stared at him with recognition and nothing else. Empty. She smiled and it hurt. A hooked sigil hung about her neck and she looked at him. "No one comes here - not that way. Not in a long time. They stare through the windows until I take them. But you came from somewhere else, didn't you?" She stared at him, unnerving smile still in place. "I've seen you through windows."
He remembered now. In puddles of water from ill-kept roofs in Azkaban he'd looked into murky mirrors and seen gray and her face. "What are you?"
She ignored him and turned to the window nearest her. A girl stared back through. Her hair was carrot red and her eyes were stained with tears. "She woke up this morning to blood on the sheets. Her chest swells and she becomes a woman and every night her stepfather smiles at her and she knows it's only a matter of time before the door opens in the dark when her mother isn't home. She lives in a trailer with a leaky roof and the teachers at school dismiss her as hopeless and useless. She is not smart. She is not beautiful. She is not special. She is nothing. She is realizing it." She watched as the girl began to drag ragged fingernails across the skin of her cheeks. "She is mine. Is she not lovely?"
He shuddered, his eyes fixed on the girl who didn't look back at them. He tried to make himself call out to her, but he couldn't. The woman beside him dragged her hooked sigil across her arm, smiling as the girl in the window mirrored her, a broken compass in her hand. Rats began to gather, skittering up and climbing her legs and feet like fleshy tree trunks. He shuddered away from them.
"I remember now. Dogs in prisons and water-windows." The blood from her arms dripped to the floor and the rats lapped at it with tiny tongues. She walked away and he followed, not sure why. The windows moved and wept as he moved by and he tried not to see them. "Fell through a veil, didn't you? Old thing - most of them were destroyed. There's one somewhere that leads to my sister's realm. People lost there never get back. Lost in colors."
He gazed around the gray and nerved himself to speak. "Do people lost here find their way back?"
She smiled. "No."
"Harry . . . Remus . . . isn't there a way to-"
"No." Flat eyes stare at him; hook reaching up to tear almost idly at a corner of her lip, leaving a long thin gash. "I could show them to you. I've seen them through their windows, touched them. They're not mine all the time - but they may be. You were almost mine, once, twice, a hundred times." She pointed and he saw the windows seem to come closer. He saw dark hair and green eyes and shut his own. "It won't help. You'll still see, here. You'll lose yourself here until all you see is the gray. Look."
He looked and the boy in the mirror could have come from one of his own memories, save for the bright green of his eyes and the hopeless expression he wore. He looked like an old man trapped in a youthful body. "Harry . . ." The boy didn't' look up. And he didn't cry. He just stared at a book full of moving pictures that tried without success to comfort him. He saw his own face - young and arrogant - looking at Harry without comprehension. The man he'd been then couldn't understand despair.
He understood now. Her voice floated from behind him, and he couldn't look away from the boy in the window. "I see him often, now. Wars always claim their heroes. You should know that, little dog. Even when they win, they lose." She moved, silent despite her bulk and short limbs. "There are other windows. Usually, I watch them alone. It is . . . unusual to have someone else to see as well. Come. I will show you."
"I don't want to see."
"Yes you do. Come." He followed. He did want to see, though he couldn't explain why. She halted finally before a large window. "I saw him so often, for so long. His kind rarely comes through. Animalistic urges - they don't live long enough to be mine. He had anchors though, to weight him down. Or he did. I liked to watch him when he didn't cry. He will, one day, now. One day he will cry, and he will be mine." She trailed a hand along the dark edges of the window as if tracing the face of a lovely. "He is so beautiful when broken."