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Seeking Penance

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Pain was not unfamiliar to Harry. Always there to keep him in check, a bittersweet reminder to ground him when he got a tad overzealous or reckless. Though now it seemed to be a meaningless one. And Harry found himself just as, if not more so, empty than the flesh crazed corpses that ruled what had become reality to what was left of the Earth.

The woods are muggy and silent. A sense of foreboding lurks in the bottom of Harry’s stomach as he makes his way through them. To where, he doesn’t know, but a subconscious urging leads him to the edge of the trees.

Protected from the harsh rays of sunlight, Harry observes the peaceful looking farmhouse as (actual living, breathing, non-dead) people, litter around the property.

He couldn’t recall how many times he'd wandered to this exact farm. Seeking out the only sense of normalcy of the past that was this haven.

It was weeks - perhaps a month? - since Harry found the farm and the people surviving within it. Although, today felt exceedingly different. His magic thrummed wildly on against his skin in what he assumed was agreement.

Hours pass as the young man watched people bustle round on the front lawn. They steer clear from the barn a little away from the house, and the more Harry focuses upon it, the more alarm bells seem to ring in his head. Something was not right about it. Though he had an inkling he’d find out about it sooner rather than later. There was always something that could go wrong. In this new world they all lived in, while happiness could be immense, it rarely lasted. And Harry had always seen the same outcome no matter how many survivors he had encountered.

Suddenly, the air around him shifted and alert emerald eyes drift toward the noise. It sped past him about half a mile away away, breaking through the thick trees and into a clearing. A sharp breath was drawn from him as the limp form of a boy and the man carrying him ran to the farm house.

Death.

Harry could smell it's unmistakable, pungent scent from here. The boy was veering towards it's cold grasp. A hearing enhancement charm aided the wizard to labored, shallow breath coming from the boy. Accompanied by fast intakes from the man clutching him.

Harry turned away and delved back into the humid forest. The Reaper may yet claim another this very hour. The wizard hoped not.

***

The Calling became harder to ignore as pain flitted through him. Convulsions of needed action claiming him. Death was commanding him to do a job. A job Harry already knew of, for once. It was now nightfall. Only a few mere hours since the man carried the boy into the farmhouse.

Shaky fingers ran through wild black strands. The wizard held back, hoping the boy could make it through somehow. He still did somehow believe in miracles. After all, many had happened to him throughout his lifetime.

***

As fate would have it, the boy needed no collecting from the Reaper. “Damn tease,” muttered Harry.

A hollow chuckle that was not his own filled his ears and the wizard scowled in response.

Another time then. He was patient, and although he hated his job, it did cure him of this never ending boredom.

***

The next opportunity arose weeks later. The barn opened, and with it came the living dead. Harry scoffed in disgust. Vile creatures. A by product of trying to play God.

Sorrow was apparent within the group. They had finally found the woman’s daughter. Undead, trapped in a barn they had lived next to for weeks. It didn’t sit well with Harry, though he had gotten used to it. With his job, he had been forced to.

Harry knew this was only the start to the troubles this ragtag group would face. Death had asked him to watch over them. Collect the souls of the ones who passed, never straying too far away from them. When the wizard had asked why he needed to watch over these particular people, Death had simply stayed silent. Let the infernal entity have his reasons then, Harry had thought with frustration at the time.

So, Harry watched over them. He learned their names and their mannerisms. Their schedules, personalities, and even their dirty secrets.

A sigh passed through his lips, breath coming out visibly ice cold, despite the Summer heat. Death was close. Who would who would need his reaping? Who’s soul would need to be collected?

As it turned out, the unstable one went first. Which wasn’t too surprising to Harry. Shane had been a loose cannon since he came back with supplies for the boy who had almost perished.

Harry felt next to nothing as he walked towards the man. Mist rose from the body on the ground. Before the opaque figure could realize what was happening, Harry flicked his wrist. A tear into the Afterworld ripped open in the night air, sucking in the soul as it tried to flee.

Rick Grimes continued on, unaware of the supernatural happenings right in front of him.

***

Only a month had passed when Death called upon him once more.

“You want me to what?” Harry was furious. Death remained silent, waiting for the wizard to calm.

“Listen, watching them and reaping their souls is something I can handle, but wanting me to bloody fucking join them is another,” His green eyes seemed to glow in the night with ire as he gazed upon Death.

The tall entity reached with his bony fingers, brushing them across Harry’s cheek. The effect it had was immediate, and the wizard took a deep, calming breath. Death knew what he was doing. Harry was aware of this. Though Death couldn’t command him, the wizard always took his advice. Death had always looked after and cared for him, after all, and the Chosen One had learned Death was always right. Though the entity had never been very forthcoming with information. Only when Death thought it pertinent enough to bring things to light. There was a balance to maintain after all, and with the living dead roaming Earth, the scale was teetering precariously.

“Harry, it is time. They will need you soon. The woman is pregnant and will need your aid,” Death’s voice was but a mere sound against the wind. And while the Entity’s features were hidden beneath a cloak, Harry could tell he was grinning. “There are things you know not, my dear. Trust me, and I will lead you on the right path.”

Closing his eyes, Harry nodded. Skeletal fingers carded lovingly through his hair in response.

”Go, they need you now.”

Before he even opened his eyes, Death was gone. All that was left behind of him was the wilted plants around Harry’s feet. The group needed tending to. Harry would listen to Death and just hope for the best.

Hope was all he or anyone else had now.

***

Glenn was fucked.

Walkers were lurking around his crouched form. He thought scouting out the area by himself would be fine. They hadn’t had many walkers enter their camp. Oh, how wrong he was. Hiding was proving to be difficult. The trees were all too thin. Leaves covered the ground, and every step had them twitching and looking in his direction.

One had snuck up on him. Almost biting into the skin of his neck. He screamed in horror. He was going to die. All alone and be turned into a flesh eating beast. Resigned to his fate, he looked up in surprise as the walkers crowded around him fell suddenly. Their heads falling to the ground a moment later.

Glenn caught a glimpse of a short figure before his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he knew no more.