A/N: This story was inspired by the movie Stakeland and follows the major lines of that work. It's a movie I highly recommend for all of you who adore zombies as much as I do. This was originally posted around 2012, edited into what you are currently reading in 2015. I decided to polish CBLS up because I want it to be worthy of all the praise I have received for it - going through my old fiction is like a massive cringe-fest. 0/10 would not recommend.
I hope you'll still like it! Thank you so much for the overwhelming response. I never thought one of my stories would ever receive the amount of love this one did - even three years later I still receive kind messages regarding this story.
I named this story after this song. I will post a full playlist of this fanfiction at the end of the story - hope you enjoy!
Please do not repost, recreate or translate.
Summary: It's a crazy world torn straight out of a horror movie - the undead roam the earth and destroy everything in their wake. When Harry Potter narrowly escapes a horrible death he finds himself a companion in Tom Riddle - a mysterious, heartless man who doesn't hesitate to take lives to save his own. Savage as the man is, Harry still finds himself enthralled... He quickly starts developing strange needs and feelings.
When they decide to finally find a safe place to settle down for a while they find dangerous enemies on their path. Tom's past demons come back around to haunt the both of them and it becomes very clear that even after the years they spent together, Harry really doesn't know Tom at all.
Warnings: Alternative Universe - zombies, innocent!Harry, horror, gore, sexual content such as (but not limited by); anal, oral, fingering, spanking, rimming, dirty talk, slut shaming, semi-public sex
Counting Bodies Like Sheep
'Don't fret precious I'm here'
His name was Harry Potter.
He was 16 years old and didn't really have a home right now. He had that in common with the rest of the human population.
He wasn't very tall, his skin was pale and his hair was messy. He had vivid green eyes peeking out from behind his glasses and his attractive face was currently bruised. His swollen lip was in the process of healing and it no longer hurt to smile, though admittedly he rarely found reason to do so. The cut on his bare arm was almost completely gone and it would soon become a silver line, joining the rest of the scars on Harry's skin. He had gathered a large collection of scars these last years - they didn't even map out half of what Harry had been through to obtain them.
Harry didn't care much about getting scars anymore. He would take a new scar over death any day.
There was a knife hidden in one of his army boots and a gun strapped to his leg. In the backpocket of the worn, slightly oversized jeans he was wearing were a random collection of extra bullets that jingled when he walked. The tank top that kept his chest from being exposed to the warm air was stained with dirt, and had a tear on the side from when Harry had gotten stuck climbing over a fence.
It was Summer - the sun was making his exposed arms and neck stick to the worn leather of the car they were seated in, and his eyes drooped shut every now and then before he'd shoot back up and tried to force himself to stay awake. The nasty sunburn on his shoulders and the bridge of his nose was no longer a constant ache but he knew he should avoid direct sunlight for a few days anyway. He didn't want to fall ill and be a nuisance.
Harry was tired. It had been weeks since they had actually found a place safe enough to sleep, besides their car. They had been driving around aimlessly, raiding supermarkets, fighting for their lives.
Killing people who were in reality no longer actual people.
The breakout had been 4 years ago now if Harry should believe what he had been told. He himself had lost track of time – to him it was simply Summer or Winter, and everything in between didn't matter. He had learned to tell the time by checking the position of the sun and he could read the stars, but he didn't very often use that skill. Knowing what time or month it was didn't get you far in this world anymore.
There had been a virus and it had spread like a wildfire. The virus made decent people turn into animals – made them lose all sense of things that were important and forced them to rely solely on their basic instincts. Their intelligence withered away as their bodies healed in a superhuman fashion the first hours of their infection. After the infection settled, there was only one thing the victim would focus on.
The need to feed.
Harry had been twelve years old when he had found out just how horribly cruel the effects of the virus truly were. At the beginning of it all everyone had been arrogant enough to believe that current technology and modern medicine would fix everything.
How wrong they had been.
Though the years had passed and blurred Harry still dearly cherished where he came from and dreamed of his parents' faces almost every night. He had been born at the death of July to James Potter, a praised and dedicated police officer, and Lily Potter who was mostly known for the love and care she put into her work as a doctor. They had always lived a quiet family life in Godric's Hollow - close by their work, but cut off a bit from the nearby large city. Looking back on it that had probably been the reason why Harry had been able to live long enough to see his sixteenth birthday.
Harry was bored out of his skull.
His parents hadn't paid much attention when Harry tried telling them about school today - about how a boy named Neville had cried in class because he thought the world was ending. There were a lot of sick people nowadays and the small radio Harry had on his desk interrupted its music to bring its listeners news and warnings - Harry only half-listened as he played with his soldier figurines. He still had homework to finish but he figured he could do it after dinner. It wasn't like his parents noticed he hadn't done it yet, anyway.
'-recommend you stay inside after dark, and stock up on food during the day. The Prime-Minister announced he is doing everything he can to not only avoid further contamination but to also help those who are already -'
'-need to leave, James! You and your men can't hold them off, one bite is enough! Today in the emergency I saw a man's stabwound heal in mere seconds with my own eyes, he was completely incoherent and violent! Something is happening, something... It's as though they aren't even human anymore.'
Harry turned the radio down to curiously listen to his parents' voices. His parents rarely argued - he had been raised in a peaceful and loving home. To hear distress in his mother's voice made Harry antsy.
'You can't expect me to just leave these people behind. It is my job to serve and protect!' his dad snapped back.
'We have a son, James! He's only twelve years old, we can leave, get a job somewhere safe where the virus has not spread yet...'
It fell silent, then. Harry retreated to his desk and switched radio stations, picking up his toys again though he was no longer interested. Leave? Then he wouldn't see Ron anymore... Were they in danger?
Was Neville right?
How sweet life had been back then... Warm meals every night, the greatest burden Harry had to carry had been keeping his grades up. His childhood had been a great one and he would forever long to regain even the smallest piece of that domestic life.
Yes, Harry remembered that night. As he drifted he remembered the calm before the storm. He remembered the silence that had fallen after his mother's exclamation and how busy his parents had been the days after that. Carrying canned goods to the car and packing clothes away, busy making phone calls and silence at the dinner table. They had kept Harry away from school and they'd stayed home from work as well. Even Harry had known something bad was hanging over their heads at that age - it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. His mom didn't smile as much and his father had his hands too full to indulge Harry with a game of soccer in their backyard.
His parents, in the final days of their lives, hadn't even bothered opening the mail.
Harry shifted and rested his forehead against the car window. The seatbelt dug uncomfortably into his throat and a worried frown settled on his face.
Harry had just been going upstairs to get one of his favorite books when it had happened.
Harry was positively pouting as he stuffed his small backpack full with his favorite toys.
Family vacations were always a happy thing but Harry sensed something urgent in his parents' actions. It made him sad to think that his dad didn't even have the time to play games with him anymore - his mom hadn't asked about Harry's homework once. They were simply too busy for them and for the first time in his life Harry felt lonely and almost abandoned.
He glanced over his bedroom. His mom had told him to only bring what he absolutely wouldn't want to go without and he had a strange feeling about this - like he would never return to his bedroom ever again. His fingers hovered over his favorite book, filled with pictures of famous athletes. One day he wanted to be one of them and grace the pages of history books. People would whisper about his achievements in awe... Harry wanted nothing more than to make an unforgettable impression on the world.
Make a change.
He decided to take the book with him and he hugged it to his chest as he went downstairs with an extra bounce in his step. He reassured both his parents he got what he needed and wanted and went into the car, buckling his seatbelt and flipping through his book. The radio had stopped playing music a few days ago. The news was on all the time and Harry found it rather boring but he didn't want to bother his parents by asking them to just put a cd into the car radio.
'We love you very much, Harry,' his mom suddenly said urgently. They drove out of their street and Harry looked over his shoulder to see his parental home grow smaller and smaller already. People were running around in the street, cars were rushing by. The sun was setting and Harry met his father's eyes when James looked into the rearview mirror. 'You know that, don't you?'
'We're never going home again, are we?' Harry asked softly. Lily opened her mouth to answer it, but Harry shrugged. He didn't want to hurt her feelings. He understood that his parents were doing their best. 'I love you too, mom. You too dad.'
His father didn't return Harry's smile and as they headed towards the city to access the highway there were more people running on the road, screams outside their car. It was as though everyone was participating in a mad game of tag. Harry watched a man tackle a woman to the ground and then more jumped on top of her. She cried out for help and then her voice died down.
The sound of car alarms pierced the air, along with the sirens of fire trucks and police vehicles. He quickly looked back down to his book and told himself not to look outside anymore as he felt fear growing inside of him.
This was what his parents were taking him away from. Mindless violence and cruelty.
There was a tense silence in the car. His father was focused purely on what was ahead of him and he narrowly avoided hitting a woman on the road. They were almost on the highway.
Then, his mom gasped.
Another car hit theirs from his father's side and Harry cried out - his mom's head slammed into the dashboard and his father was crushed in between the debris of their car. His half of the car was completely destroyed and Harry screamed as he watched his father's fingers twitch on the steering wheel. Final signs of life were seeping out of him.
Blood was oozing from his mother's forehead, even a brighter shade of red than her hair. She turned her head and blinked owlishly a few times, struggling to take in their surroundings as though she was disorientated. Then she glanced at James (of what was left of him) and sobbed. Harry stared in shock and pain crept through his neck.
His dad was dead.
'Climb out, climb out! Come on baby!' His mom urged him. She was crying as she rolled down her window and she was instantly torn out by greedy hands - teeth digging into her throat as she screamed at her son to climb out and run. He watched in horror as his mother struggled to get free and kept quiet when those hands reached for him. When they retracted Harry stayed still for a very long time. It could have been hours, maybe only minutes. The entire vehicle smelt of blood and death and he looked at his father's hands one more time before he finally c limbed out with tears staining his cheeks, instantly tripping over his unlaced sneakers and kicking them off.
The world around him was a mess. Everything was burning and everyone was screaming - debris digging into his feet and piercing his socks. He sobbed as he ran listlessly with no one to help him. His mom and dad had just been killed and he was alone in the world.
A few men were looking at him with bloodied hands and faces. Harry wanted to walk to them, beg them for help but something in their expression terrified Harry so much he continued running. It had been the best choice he would make that evening.
Eventually Harry gained the attention of other men and they started running after him like mad dogs, grunting and groaning dangerously. He could run for a while, soccer had gained him some experience in that field but their legs were longer and their endurance appeared endless. His legs felt like jelly already and the only thing that kept him going was adrenaline.
He was going to die. He knew it.
The pain in his feet and neck was unbearable and the wind bit into his face. He glanced behind himself to see them closing up on him. There were three of them with torn clothes, oozing wounds and greedy mouths.
Harry told himself he must be having a nightmare. He should wake up now. Why wasn't he waking up?
He ran into a wall of a man and toppled over, a set of enraged eyes instantly aimed at him. They were both on the ground - the man had been heading into his direction for whatever reason. When Harry saw some signs of humanity he crawled onto the man, clinging onto him for dear life to find some safety. Everything was sort of a blur and he never would have embarrassed himself had all these horrible things not just happened to him. All Harry knew was that this stranger was somehow human, not a monster, and Harry would hold on to him for dear life.
Then, the tall man he had run into lifted a gun and shot three times over Harry's shoulder. Harry's ears run and he buried his face into the man's neck, thanking him, clinging onto him for dear life, trying to tell the stranger about how Harry's mom and dad had just died and those men were trying to hurt him too. He was so scared. He didn't want to die like this.
'Quit your blithering and come with me, child,' the man told him simply.
Harry just nodded stupidly, incapable of releasing the man's sleeve as he struggled to keep up with his quick strides. He was pushed into a car and cried the entire way.
As the memories resurfaced Harry slowly drifted back into awareness and blinked his eyes back open, feeling disorientated the way he always did after a nap but knowing he couldn't go back to sleep now that his mind was filled with these thoughts.
It had been Tom who saved him.
They'd driven all night, those years ago - Harry had eventually cried himself to sleep and during their first morning together Tom carefully picked the glass from Harry's tiny feet without a word. He had not once attempted to comfort Harry, ask him about his parents, and in return Harry had just kept to quietly crying to himself until he had no more tears to shed.
Peculiar man, Tom was. He never said much and he didn't appear to be the type to particularly care for anyone but himself. To this day Harry still didn't understand why Tom had bothered with him.
Maybe he was an orphan just like Harry, and just wanted some company.
Harry was in his late teens now and had never grown quite as tall as Tom. He had given up hope on doing so a long time ago. Tom's shoulders had grown broader as the years had passed with all the lifting he did and Harry had learned that Tom had been 28 when he had found Harry. Harry didn't know why Tom knew how to work a gun, but he had been taught not to ask too many questions. Tom wouldn't reply to them anyway.
Harry had learned how to handle a gun as well, knew exactly where to shoot the zombies ('If you can't get a good aim at their heads shoot them in the kneecaps first, that way they won't move as fast and you'll have more time to get closer without getting hurt.'), knew what places to avoid, knew what places to try and find food…
When he dreamt, he dreamt of asphalt underneath his bare feet, his mother's screams ringing in his ears. Tom often had to shake him to wake him and press a hand against Harry's mouth to stifle his screams – he had more than once attracted danger because of it.
But Tom still didn't get rid of him.
Tom's brilliant blue eyes were currently hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, a frown was set on his attractive face. His hair was usually parted, but now with the hot weather the soft curly strands had become messy and they framed his face. He had recently cut it to keep it from getting into his eyes.
Tom was wearing a pair of cargo pants, knives and other small weapons hidden in the many pockets he had. There were guns strapped to his thighs and ammunition was in their trunk. The tank top he was wearing was a bit tight on him and bruises were littered over his pale skin. Tom too was scarred, sunburn on his neck, his shoulders, spreading over his back.
Functionality over fashion, Harry supposed. He knew if this had been other times Tom wouldn't have been caught dead in a pair of cargo pants.
Tom still looked incredibly handsome to Harry.
There were bodies rotting on the asphalt road along several deserted cars but Harry tried not to focus on it too much. Instead he worried for when it would be winter, again – the infected could stand the cold far better than the heat. The nights were hard enough to survive when they couldn't get through a city in one day because of blockages on the road and the like, but during the winters…
Harry closed his eyes and slumped into his seat, yawning. They hadn't had much sleep last night either. A couple of infec- ah, who was he kidding, a couple of zombies had been slamming up against their car, trying to open it like a can of sardines. It had ultimately resulted into a couple of crushed zombies on the dirt road and a very satisfied Tom behind the steering wheel.
'Tired?' Tom asked and Harry hummed, sighing when Tom's hand smoothed Harry's hair behind his ear.
But above all, something else was bothering the teen.
He supposed it was very easy for Tom to forget that Harry was only sixteen years old, even if they did celebrate his birthdays because Harry insisted on doing so. Harry would always struggle to keep up with Tom, make him proud and prove him Harry was useful and worthy of keeping around. Sometimes Harry himself forgot he was a child by old society's standards as well with all the things he had been through.
But sometimes it showed in the things he worried about - things regular teens always worried about.
Such as who was Harry really, and what was his place in this world? College or any sort of education at that was not something Harry had to think about anymore but he'd like to think he could still contribute something. Sometimes, when Tom was asleep and it was Harry's turn to keep watch, he wondered what the point in all of this was. They were bound to die anyway, weren't they? No matter how many zombies he killed and how much hate he felt toward them, it didn't bring his parents back. It didn't change the world. It didn't solve anything.
Tom's hand pulled away from where it had been lingering on Harry's face, curling around the steering wheel again.
Harry has seen and done things that should qualify him as an adult (because killing zombies counted more than smoking or drinking alcohol, right?) but he still felt like such a stupid child. He always felt like he wasn't doing enough, like he wasn't doing something. Also, he may very well be having an identity crisis while he was at it.
Harry thought he was in love with Tom.
Harry never really had anyone explain to him what it meant to be in love with someone, so he couldn't be too sure, but it must be love when he just felt this stupid need to stare at Tom constantly, right? When he felt this happy when Tom touched him it couldn't just be affection, could it? It was weird because girls were supposed to like boys… Yet Harry was really, really sure he wasn't a girl and he was really sure Tom wasn't one either, so it was just… He didn't understand. It were times like these where he just missed his mom so much. His mom would've understood. She would've known why Harry would fall for a man.
It was just difficult.
It was difficult and strange because his body just had this weird reaction sometimes, where his manhood would suddenly ache and feel hard between his legs. He had never told Tom because he didn't know if it was normal or not and it usually just went away on its own accord anyway.
Tom sighed and Harry opened his eyes again to look at him.
'What is it?' he asked and he quickly glanced out of the window in worry. There seemed to be nothing outside that could possibly cause that look on Tom's face. Tom glanced at him and Harry's face was reflected in his sunglasses.
'We need to talk,' Tom decided and he glanced in his rearview mirror. The bodies were now growing sparse and they were getting further away from larger populated areas. Harry felt dread, somehow. Tom couldn't possibly know about that right?
'We do?' Harry asked and Tom pulled over. He took off his sunglasses and ran a hand through his hair. 'About what?'
And even if he knew that Tom wouldn't leave him when all they had were each other and when they were each other's protectors it didn't take away that fear of being left on his own. He wouldn't survive on his own – Harry was too reckless and didn't think things through as well as Tom would.
'We have been traveling for four years,' Tom started and Harry nodded slowly. Tom stared at him for a bit longer as if he was trying to look into Harry's soul, before he leaned back in his seat. 'I think we ought to find somewhere safe and remain there for a while.'
Harry blinked in mild surprise. 'Are you serious? But you always said that settling down somewhere could be dangerous because they are always on the move, and that we have to keep on the roads as well for supplies and -'
'I know what I said,' Tom interrupted him and when he saw the look on Harry's face his own face relaxed somewhat and he ran another hand through his hair. 'I know,' he repeated, his voice now a bit gentler. A silence fell upon them and Harry just stared at Tom for a short while. His eyes traced his high cheekbones, those small beads of perspiration that had gathered on his smooth forehead, his eyebrows, down his straight nose to his pale lips…
'We can't always be on the road,' Tom reminded him, and his voice made Harry snap up from his thoughts. Tom rested his head against the his seat and his pale neck was stretched out completely, his adam's apple bobbing up and down when he swallowed and spoke again. 'We are dependent of one another, for as much as I'd dread to admit it, considering you never use your head and I am not quite as creative as you are. The chance of one of us dying is… There, if we keep taking risks like this.'
They had never really set up a plan as to where they wanted to go, simply because they would just go wherever they thought they could find food and maybe shelter. There had never been a goal besides surviving another day, and every day came with new risks… Sometimes the places they ended up in looked like ghost towns, and sometimes they just walked straight into the home of countless zombies. With the years having passed, zombies no longer stuck around in the cities. There was nothing left to eat for them, there, and they traveled as well.
There was no predicting the undead anymore.
When Tom spoke of creativity, he was referring to the makeshift traps Harry created that had more than once saved their lives. The fact that Harry didn't come up with plans often and just rather did things was something they could use to their advantage. Harry made trip wires, for example, and fastened bottles and bottle caps to them. They'd clink together when the wire was stepped upon, making a sound loud enough to wake them when they had been asleep or bathing so they knew that something was coming.
Two months ago Tom and Harry had ran out of bullets. They had sought solace in an old abandoned manor but zombies had gathered on their lawn - too many to fight by hand. Harry had ran to the nursery, cut open his hand and soaked the teddy bears with his own blood. He had tossed them out of the window and while the zombies had been busy fighting each other and ripping the teddy bears apart, Tom and Harry took their chance to escape.
Harry had a talent for coming up with quick getaways. That was the difference between him and his companion - Tom preferred to keep everything in stock and prepare for the worst beforehand, plan everything ahead. Harry didn't think - he just reacted.
'But why do you think now wouldn't be as dangerous?' Harry asked softly, finally. The thought of being capable of living somewhere, growing old… He had forced those kinds of desires out of his head a long time ago. This simply wasn't the kind of world where that was possible anymore and it already shocked Harry enough that they had managed to get this far, for so long.
'It's still as dangerous as it used to be,' Tom replied calmly, 'it just depends on the location we choose to stay at, and I'm not saying we should stay there for the rest of our lives. But we could stay there for a year, and then move forward again.'
'There…? That almost sounds like you already have a place in mind,' Harry murmured. Tom's head turned to him, and Harry instantly realized that Tom did. He had this look in his eyes that he always had when he had come up with something, and Harry found that he liked it. Tom used to say nothing at all and he wouldn't discuss a thing with Harry before making decisions, but now that Harry was slowly growing up Tom was starting to see him as more than just someone that came along him – someone to talk to every now and then.
Harry was Tom's friend, now. Not just a little boy following him around.
'Do you remember that farm we stayed last year?'
Harry slowly nodded. Of course he did.
When they had been there it had been like everything had been safe and normal again for a short while. It had been an incredibly long drive and they had stumbled upon it by accident, but staying there… it had been like a dream.
It had been late September when they had arrived there, and Harry still clearly remembered the apple tree standing right next to the house. Everything had been deserted – the barns, the house… The farm had been completely isolated from the outside world and although Harry couldn't understand how someone could've lived there willingly when things had still been normal, he hadn't complained once whilst staying there.
The house had smelt of death when they came there. The owners of the property had killed themselves. There had been a body of a man in the bathtub upstairs; his wrists had been slit but the blood had been drained from the tub, probably along with the bathwater. A woman with a broken glass in her hands had been rotting on the floor in the living room. They had rolled their bodies up into carpets and burnt them. The sight and smell had been horrendous, but… There had been no zombies at all when Tom and Harry did their final rounds.
They hadn't seen one all winter. The traps Harry had set up had gone off once, but it had been a squirrel.
Harry grinned and Tom smirked back at him.
'Is that a yes?' Tom asked and Harry nodded at him. Yes, he would love to go back to that place. It had been Tom that had said they should leave, and even if he had always been right and he did have a few good reasons as to why they should go, Harry had still been reluctant to leave that place. Everything they needed had been there – the old well constantly filled up with rainwater, there had been clean clothes they shared, plants…
'At this moment I think I'd be willing to kill for an apple,' Harry said and he smiled when Tom snorted in amusement. They'd been living on fish and meat from the small animals they caught for too long. Oh, the things Harry would do for a glass of milk...
'Sometimes I wonder why I still put up with you,' Tom said though his words held no bite. He slid his sunglasses back onto his nose and held out his hand. 'Hand me the map, will you?'