The first time Harry returned to the Hogwarts ground after the (technically second) Battle of Hogwarts, the Final Battle was on the day three years after it, on May 2 2001. And, even though he did not know it back then, it should also be the last time he would ever see the castle. This version of it, at least.
The rebuilding was finally completed and their savior, Harry, had been invited to deliver a speech to the crowd. Despite the fact that he still did not like to speak in front of a one, he had accepted. He could not say no to Professor McGonagall (especially not after Crucio-ing Carrow for spitting on her).
He had annoyed (and amused) Ginny for two months with his sheer inability to write a simple speech, but none of his attempts felt right. Harry first had no idea what it was, but something was missing in every single one of them. He couldn't quite put his finger on it for weeks, but when he finally – finally – saw what they had been missing, he had been able to write a speech he deemed worthy to actually hold. And when Professor McGonagall announced him, he did so.
"We have assembled here to celebrate the reopening of Hogwarts as it used to be. However, I will not talk about the history of Hogwarts today. Nor will I retell you the Second Wizarding War – or Blood War. You all either know or will be told several times in the future. What I will be talking about is my connection to this school, which I believe is unique. Or at least I really hope so."
Harry scanned the crowd. Barring a few younger children, everyone's attention was focused on him. He could see Bill and Fleur with little Victorie who just turned one today and was playing with Fleur's hair, sitting in the second row on his left.
Right next to them was Teddy, waving his right arm enthusiastically and smiling (as he had gotten Ginny to agree to stand), on Ginny's shoulders.
Charlie was standing next to them, an arm around his sister and giving Harry an encouraging smile.
Ron and Hermonie were sitting on the other side of Bill.
George, tears in his red eyes, was sitting next to Angelina in the first row to Harry's left.
Percy was sitting next to George. Percy's wife, a muggle named Audrey, was at their home with the barley a month old Lucy.
Located next to Percy were Molly and Arthur, listening to Harry with approving smiles on their faces.
On Angelina's left were Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell (well, originally), the latter with her husband Oliver and their one-year-old son Marc.
In the row behind them were Hannah, Neville, Luna and her husband Rolf. Even Draco Malfoy was sitting in their general area, close enough to be seen as part of the large group, but still far away enough that he could claim it was just a coincidence.
He almost didn't believe it, but even the centaurs listened from the edge of the forest and the merfolk from beneath the surface of the lake.
Harry took a deep breath and continued, "The first time I saw the castle was, like everybody else – excepting of course the lucky children who are here today – on September First in my first year at Hogwarts. I remember not believing that everything Hagrid," Harry nodded his head in the half-giant's direction, "had told me was true. I had been desperately waiting for a way to get away from my relatives and did not dare to let myself completely trust that it had not just been a dream until the very day I left for Hogwarts.
When truly I allowed myself to accept, that it was not a dream, but reality, was when I heard Molly Weasley," Harry gave her a warm smile, "ask her children what the platform number was and thus giving her daughter a chance to be included and not just a tag along. Not the smartest thing to do in the presence of muggles, but I later learned that they had put a muggle repelling charm on themselves. Or rather Molly had put one on herself and her children.
After boarding the train, my best friend knocked on the door, claiming that everywhere else was full. Knowing him, he looked in about five compartments before seeing me alone and deciding to try his luck. I gladly let him join me and we bonded over Quidditch and sweets. I also met a few other people during the train ride, but I have to admit that I did not really like any of them on that day.
Anyways, upon arriving here, I sat in a boat with Ron, Hermione and Neville and I was stunned to see Hogwarts, which turned out to be my first real home and the place where I met my real family. Where despite being hurt, bullied and accursed of doing things I would never do, I was happiest. Where I learned so much more outside the lessons, that it almost surpasses what I learned in them. I learned what a real family is and that it doesn't end with blood. I learned how it is to have friends that care, how it feels to really matter. I learned that even people who have basically nothing in common can be great friends, lovers even. I learned that the world is not black and white, but mostly gray. And that is just a small part of the lessons I learned.
The house I lived in was not my home to me, it was just the home of people who happened to share some of my blood and frankly did not like me. Hogwarts was my first home and will always have a special place in my heart, which is why I am glad that future generations will be able to have a similar experience, to see what in my opinion is the proof that buildings can have magic. Thank you for listening."
The crowd applauded, but Harry had already left the stage.
He didn't know why, but the entire time he had an urge to go into the forest. Harry had learned to trust his instincts, so at the first chance he got (which was not immediately after his speech, but he could manage) he went into the forest.
Harry was not sure why he was doing this, what he was searching, but he knew he was searching something.
After stumbling through the woods for what felt like hours, but turned out to be 13 minutes, he had reached his goal, still clueless, what he was searching.
Then it hit him. He was in the location of his sort-of death. His feet had carried him here, to this exact place. A place which looked like every other in the forest, but Harry knew it was the place. Without realizing, he was drawn towards a stone. The stone. He bent down and picked it up, before everything turned black.
When Harry awoke, he was not in the forest anymore. Instead he was wherever he had been when he spoke to Dumbledore, only this time he was clothed from the start and instead of Dumbledore there was a woman who did not really seem to fit in.
She had straight jet black hair that nearly reached her hips, red eyes and was paler then any person he had seen before. The mysterious woman was wearing an all black old-fashioned dress and a black jacket with silver buttons. She was standing there arms crossed and looked at Harry.
"Hello Master," she welcomed him in a deep voice, "It seems you have finally returned to the Resurrection Stone."
Harry was confused at the figure calling him Master at first, but as she mentioned the stone it clicked.
"So, you're Death?" when she nodded he continued, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to be your Master. I'd rather just live a quiet life, or as quiet my life is able to get, with Teddy, Ginny and my friends."
"I am aware of this. And this is one of the reasons why you are. A Power as great as yours demands a certain responsibility. And humans tend to be more so, when they do not want the power in question," Death smiled, "And you do not exactly have a choice in that matter."
Harry sighed. Fate did really hate him, or so it seemed. After all, almost the opposite of his wishes came true. The short duration of his and Sirius' relationship being just one of the countless examples.
"Great," he deadpanned, "Now what are these abilities you mentioned? And what exactly is my job now?"
"Excellent questions you're asking there," Death complimented, "Well, for starters you're immortal. And, like the Norse Gods, you have Allspeak, which basically means you can speak any language."
"Wait a second," Harry interrupted, "If the Norse Gods are real, shouldn't you be Hel?"
"First of all, every god is real, not just Norse ones," Death corrected, "Secondly, no I shouldn't. Hel is the Goddess of Death, just like Thanatos is the Greek one. I am Death. Just because Sif is the Goddess of War, that doesn't mean she is war. Like sure, she represents war and can influence it more then the average being, but that doesn't mean she is War. War is my sister."
"You have a sister?" Harry asked, completely stunned.
"Three actually. War, Pestilence and Famine. Anyways, you are now independent from your wand, can – under certain circumstances – stop me from collecting a life, call the Hallows to you from whatever distance, visit the afterlife and are a shape shifter. The difference between this and a metamorph is," Death added sensing his question, "That you are also able to turn into any animal you wish. Speaking of animals, you also get two companions, or familiars, who are connected to your thoughts and change their size. Because honestly, it would be pretty impractical otherwise. These are Fawkes the Phoenix and Saszul the Basilisk."
Had Harry been drinking anything, he would have spat it out. "Wh- Fawkes? A Basilisk?"
Death nodded, "Yes, that's what I said, good to know you're listening. Where are they anyway? They were supposed to arrive the second I said their name."
Just then, as if they took that sentence as their cue, a flame lit a few feet to Harry's right and Fawkes and an about ten meter long snake which had to be a young basilisk appeared.
"Ah, there they are."
Hello again, hatching, this voice belonged to Fawkes.
Pleasssed to sssee you, hatching, this one to Saszul.
"Uh, hi," Harry replied awkwardly.
"Where was I? Oh, right, your job. Basically you are to go to whatever universe currently needs help the most and aide in sorting the mess out," Death announced.
Harry groaned, "I'm going to spend eternity sorting out other people's messes? I thought I was done with that."
"Well, you were wrong," Death informed him, "If I were you I would think about what I am going to take with me."
"Wait, I have to start now?" Harry protested, "Can't I at least say Goodbye to everyone?"
"Nope," Death replied, popping the 'p', "Most you can do is write a letter. Otherwise you'd probably say Goodbye to every single human on this Earth and to be frank with you: I'm impatient", she shrugged, "Illogical, but I am."
Griphook was having a good day in his office. The paperwork was less annoying then average and no human had turned up so far to ruin his day.
That was until the Sword of Gryffindor suddenly vanishing from its place on the wall and thus effectively indeed ruining his day.
To make matters worse, the records of the Potter (not Black, just Potter) vaults emptied. It seemed irrelevant, if they contained jewels, family heritages, muggle money or wizard money.
Everything vanished right under his nose.
The goblin cursed who or whatever decided to ruin his day and went back to work. Or, to be more precise, to inform his superiors of the disappearances.
Ginny was running up and down in the Entrance Hall, waiting for Harry.
He had disappeared hours ago, claiming an urge to enter the forest out of all things and he hadn't been seen since.
She was growing increasingly worried that one being or another had killed her boyfriend.
Teddy was currently playing with Victorie at Shell Cottage, thanks to Fleur noticing her distress (Ginny was glad that she had been wrong about the woman).
Suddenly a piece of parchment made its appearance in her hand. She started to read, not sure what she was expecting.
I am incredibly sorry (really , you would not believe how sorry I am ) but I will not be coming back.
That strange urge I got? That was the Resurrection Stone calling me and now Death (who is female right now by the way) is forcing me to fix up the messes people in other universes created for the rest of eternity.
I have absolutely no choice in that matter, otherwise I would be staying with you and Teddy, I swear.
Could you please inform the others of my 'capture'? I have also left some letters for Teddy when he leaves for Hogwarts in (y)our bedroom in Grimmuald Place along with ones from Remus, Andromeda and Tonks. The one advantage this has: I can now speak with the Dead from all universes whenever I want. Fred says 'hi' by the way. And George is to stop sulking and get back to WWW.
Do not wonder when you find my books or my broom missing, I took them along.
I will search for a way to communicate. I have no clue, if there is one, but I promise I will try.
By the end of the letter, Ginny was crying. Her Harry was never coming back. Unable to think straight, she did not attempt to aparate, so she went to the next best floo.
Someone had to inform the rest of the world that he was not returning after all.