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Harry Potter and the Greatest Game

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He lay face down, listening to the silence. He was perfectly alone. Nobody was watching. Nobody else was there. He was not perfectly sure that he was there himself.

A long time later, or maybe no time at all, it came to him that he must exist, must be more than disembodied thought, because he was lying, definitely lying, on some surface. Therefore he had a sense of touch, and the thing against which he lay existed too. Almost as soon as he had reached this conclusion, Harry became conscious that he was naked.

Convinced as he was of his total solitude, this did not concern him, but it did intrigue him slightly. He wondered whether, as he could feel, he would be able to see. In opening them, he discovered that he had eyes."

-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 "King's Cross", beginning paragraphs.
___________________________

His pupils contracted painfully against the backdrop of blinding white stretched before him, shocking him into emitting a groan of pain. The floor was the only visible surface, stretching far beyond the horizon line, and the stark white glow of it filled the dark expanse of void hanging about his head with shadows and stained greys.

With the notion of possessing a fully physical body, everything came flooding back in a single, agonizing tsunami. The race to destroy the horcruxes, the reveal of Albus' gift, the Hallows, his sacrifice to Riddle...his stomach, newly reinstated in his awareness, made to crawl out of his throat.

Fuck. He was Harry Potter. Harry, son of James, son of Lily. A wizard, a practitioner of true magic. He'd lived in the United Kingdom his whole life, first with his abhorrent relatives, then in a castle-the place where he had learned to control his magic.

Fuck, he's the Chosen One, the Boy Who... Died . Harry gasped in a breath and choked on the scent of burning flesh.

Wizards and Muggles alike, thousands of people, had died because of him, and now he had died as well, and the people left alive were only aware of the last horcrux left through Neville Bravely-Idiotic-Strategy Longbottom. Harry couldn't breathe, felt his throat constricting and lungs clotting with terror and grief. There was an ache running down his shoulders, and his legs trembled to the point of having to sit down, the movement clawing hot agony where his ribs had been caved in by the Killing Curse. He felt the heat of fire licking at his neck, ash and dirt caked under his nails and all over his body, and shuddered so hard he started feeling queasy.

After an eternity, or maybe an hour, the dry retching and screaming died down enough for him to feel the wet on his cheeks. He touched his cheek with unsteady fingers, expecting blood and was indescribably relieved and ashamed to find salty, clear tears on his unmarred fingers, upon bringing them back into his sight.

It took him yet another expansive age to finally stand again, by that point his consciousness drifting numb within his head as he peered at the lit expanse with stinging, bloodshot eyes. Utterly silent, he looked to the left, to the right, and behind himself, before finally beginning to walk forwards, his feet detecting no textures or temperature changes from the ground.

He'd barely taken twenty steps aimless steps before a clinking, metallic noise signaled the arrival of a black, 2-dimensional rectangle lined in green and scrolling starbursts. After a minute of puzzlement, Harry realized it likely wasn't going to harm him, and reached out a tentative hand to brush against its surface. Rippling at his touch, the rectangle expanded from hand size to twice his height horizontally, and half it vertically, wavy script appearing in the top like how Dudley's computer games looked, far away at Harry's vantage but still visible despite his lack of eyewear.

[ WELCOME TO HARRY POTTER: THE VR EXPERIENCE! ]

Harry let out a wrecked, raspy chuckle, scratching clean, chipped nails across his chest. Raking inflamed lines across his torso to ground himself, he muttered, "Sure, why not. The afterlife is a video game about me, that's fucking fantastic."

As if in response, the black screen rippled again, rapidly filling with text too small to be understood. After a brief moment of pause, it gave a small 'ping', and shimmered into a stylized, stormy menu, the top half being devoted to a lightning motif of his name, and the game title below that.

Feeling a bit light-headed and a lot more hysterical, Harry skimmed his eyes over the options menu at the bottom, finding the only choices were [ CONTINUE ], [ NEW GAME ], [ SETTINGS ], or [ CHARACTER CREATION ]. No exit feature, or quit button, not even a succinct "delete" switch. [ CONTINUE ] yielded no results, but as Harry was quite strongly opposed to erasing everything he'd ever known, he skipped over to [ SETTINGS ], causing the words to fade away and a long list of new ones to replace them.

[ SETTINGS ]
SFX : ENABLED
MUSIC : AMBIENT
SUBTITLES : DISABLED
DLC : NONE
VIEW : 1
GRAPHICS : DISABLED
TIPS : DISABLED
DIFFICULTY : NORMAL
SAVE POINTS : DISABLED
AUTOSAVE : 24 HOURS

None of it made sense to him, but as time drew on and Harry's aches faded from inattention, he gathered the fragile courage to begin tapping at the screen, wary but resigned that yes, this insanity was indeed his life now. Gradually, he made his way through each item on the list, familiarizing himself with their functions and trying damn hard not to think about the implications this all held for life as a whole.

SFX was sounds he created, any body movement or noise from his body, even shuffling clothes could be completely muted. The note below stated that others would notice the decreased or increased noise, so Harry lessened it to the point where sneaking would be easier, and left it for the next option.

MUSIC had several settings, as well as an auxiliary dial to change the volume. AMBIENT meant that he could hear noise made by things outside of himself and his, so he hastily affixed it to its original setting-perhaps a bit louder than previous, but no difference was immediately detectable besides a bit wider range of sound detectable.

SUBTITLES turned out to be exactly that, and narrated all voices and movements within a dozen yards of himself, excluding his own. It seemed useful as all hell for recon missions, and so was left on.

DLC was completely unusable, sending him back to the starting menu every time, and he didn't at all enjoy the ten seconds he spent changing his viewpoint of his own body with VIEW. Both of these options were left unchanged, with prejudice.

The whole of GRAPHICS was to show his HUD and link to the menus, most of which appeared in the corner of his vision and could be interacted with by a hard thought on it. Leaving it on was a ridiculously important advantage for quick research, even if it was steadily more unnerving the longer the many glowing symbols stayed in his peripheral.

TIPS had a notation that it, in summary, functioned as a continual tutorial for the various locations, items, creatures, spells, and people found in the world. Harry rubbed at the scars across his body he'd been given for being unaware, and pressed ENABLE so harshly the ripples touched the edge of the screen.

DIFFICULTY and SAVE POINTS, while tempting, were left as they were, on virtue of him quickly resetting AUTOSAVE to 30 MINUTES as an alternate advantage. With everything set as he thought were best, Harry switched back to the start menu, slightly less shaky about the whole of it.

Taking a steadying breath, he gently pressed down upon [CHARACTER CREATION], the screen less foreign to him as it rippled into a warning notice, as well as a [RANDOMIZE NEW CHARACTER] option. [NOTE: If you change this, you must restart your current game. View current character?] [ YES ] [ NO ]

“Yes,” Harry muttered, clenching his eyes shut and bracing for something to happen to him. After a moment of fearful tenseness...he opened his eyes, to see the screen expand to around his height and twice his width, a mirror image of him fading into visibility upon it amidst a wall of various notes and statuses. It was familiar and yet somehow just as unsettling even after however many minutes-hours-days he’d had in this void to internalize the system.

Reaching out with quivering fingertips, Harry traced the edge of the image, hardly believing in the years-younger softness of his jaw, the fire-bright clarity of his eyes behind unbroken wire lenses, no bruises or scars marring what was visible of his skin. It seemed, recently, as though this form of him was merely an illusion war and rose-tinted nostalgia had lent him, but…

“God…” Harry stumbled back a few steps, taking it all in.

 

[PROFILE]
Player_Handle : Harry Potter
Level :18 Experience Points :90,000
-
Health Points :28
Magic Points:28
Stamina Points:33
Defense :5(+0)
Weapon :Blackthorn Wand
Armor :None
-
Reputation :Martyr
Sex :Male
Years Cleared:17
Luck Points:10
Race :Human
Language(s) :English, Parseltongue
-
Achievements :School Storyline(x7)
Perks :Jack of All Stats, Thick Skin, Gambler
Passive Skills:None
Active Skills:None
Auto Skills:None
-
Attribute Points:18
Wisdom :6
Intelligence :7
Strength :8
Dexterity :8
Constitution :9
Charisma :5
Statuses :[ Bleeding ], [ Injured ], Severely Fatigued ], [ Dehydrated ], [ Hungry ], [ Cold ], [ Calm ], [ Determined ], { Prophecy }
-
Galleons =100 Sickles =6 Knuts =2 | Pence =50 Quid =300

All of his being was clinically and bluntly laid out in numbers, next to a picture of his crumpled body on the forest floor. Harry had to take a step closer to see every tiny line, his head swimming.

‘...Is this really all I amount to?’

Gripped by this realization, Harry suddenly felt faint and dizzy, as if a hazy film had encircled his mind. Desperately, he reached out, and his hands pressed the closest button.

[NEW CHARACTER CREATED!]

The screen swirled with information, lines of code flowing across too fast to decipher, as the blank world around him lit up with a blinding white light. Stumbling backwards in alarm, Harry scrambled to stop whatever had begun, but his fingers scraped uselessly through the hologram, barely deforming the surface.

[APPEARANCE DATA RANDOMIZED. OLD SAVE FILES DELETED. ALL MEMORY TRANSFERRED. LOADING WORLD PARAMETERS...]

“Wait, wait no-!”

[BEGINNING NEW GAME...START!]