The One Where Death Departs
It all started out with a favor. Just a favor.
Fate had all but begged him to keep this child's soul alive despite the odds. One single soul. To provide something short of a miracle. Well, a miracle to the mortals anyway. Not so much to the personification of Death himself.
However, even if he could bypass this world's laws (which he most definitely could) with ease (and his eyes closed and his hands bound) such an act would incur enough paperwork on his desk for the godly being to be reluctant in participating in any such 'life-saving' activities.
But this was Fate. And getting a favor from Fate was not something one, even as all powerful as he, could ignore. So with great hesitance on his part, (he had seen who he was meant to save and the consequences of such an act of mercy, as well as the oncoming files he would have to sign, was staggering) a lot of wheedling on Fate's part, Death finally acquiesced. He would promise to spare the infant Harrison James Potter from his rather unfortunate encounter with a killing curse at about one year old. And he planned to keep to that promise.
Until one over eager, scythe-happy, reaper ruined it all.
And then somehow it snowballed from there.
"You. Did. What."
The reaper before him shuffled nervously. The cloak completely covering the dark figure, and looked like it had been sewn haphazardly with the shadows of the damned, writhed in agitation to the movement. Guilt and fear rolled off the creature in waves. Death idly mused whether it had been a good idea to implant those wisps of emotions in his servants in the first place considering the very subtle increase in mistakes that's been happening in recent years. Then again, he was sure he would have gone insane eons ago if he was surrounded by just dementors and emotionless reaper dolls for constant company.
"S-sorry." It rasped the word imbued with as much apologetic anxiety as it could muster. Death wondered whether he should've improved his subordinates vocabulary when he gave them their (admittedly lower than dirt) EQ. Of course, as he loathed too much noise that idea was swiftly squashed. Though maybe a few extra words wouldn't hurt...
"Can you bring the child back at least?" He sighed, long thin fingers the color of freshly preserved bones in the snow rubbed his forehead in an attempt to ease the growing frustration. "Please, please tell me you haven't put the soul in the reincarnation cycle already."
The silent response and the refusal for his cloaked minion to look him in the eyes with its own empty holes spoke mountains.
Death defeatedly slumped into his blackened burnt yew throne. After a millennium or a few, any pride and need for dignified appearances were easily outweighed by comfort. (Well, at least in front of his subordinates- honestly mortal souls held surprisingly high standards for him) and made an undignified groaning sound. Unlike adult souls that go to various places in the afterlife such as Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Valhalla to name just a few; children under the age of seven had to go straight back into the cycle of reincarnation. Harry James Potter could be a hatchling of a Hungarian Horntail by now for all he knew.
"Fuck me." He swore.
"Master?" The reaper rather timidly asked. "You want me to-" it trailed off with an uncertain scratchy noise as its black skeletal hand gestured at his body. Death didn't really understand where his subordinate was going with this until it began hesitantly stripping off the shadowy materials covering it.
Note to self: need to teach reapers basic modern slang to avoid any more future awkward propositions. Don't bother with Dementors. They're a lost cause.
"Just... Leave. And put back your cloak. Please. I need to think."
The reaper gladly complied with the order, apparently having enough self-preservation skills to not wait for its master to remember it's punishment. Death just watched his little subordinate scamper out, passing through the bleak grey walls thanks to its intangible structure toward more physical objects, with a mix of annoyance, displeasure, and fondness. It wasn't often that his reapers, his subordinates, his children, messed up and it was admittedly both adorable and amusing to see them guilt-ridden and anxious like mortal children caught with their hands in their jars of cookies. It was a pity that it had to be this one thing that they failed so spectacularly at.
"Now..." Death murmured to himself. "What to do, what to do.."
He could not possibly take back the promise now. It had been years since it had been made and Fate would bitch for at least another three hundred, maybe more depending on how important the boy was. Not to mention how humiliating it would be, to think Death- the end of all things, the bringer of souls, the one who will always be the last to walk on the earth, powerful, feared and revered- couldn't even fulfill a simple agreement between entities. He would literally never hear the end of it. It was totally not because he had already signed and written up all the paperwork for the kid's extended lifeline. Certainly not because letting this go meant that three sleepless whole weeks worth of mindless paperwork induced torture would essentially become three completely and utterly wasted weeks of his life that he would never get back. No. Definitely not.
Putting the soul back simply wouldn't do either, as stated before. Replacing the soul could be done, but that involves time and careful deliberation on its compatibility with its new physical form. For a moment Death seriously contemplated ripping apart the whole reincarnation process just to find this one little soul. Of course, he wasn't stupid- he may literally have all the time the world had to offer but that didn't mean he was going to use it up rebuilding something he brashly destroyed on a whim and a favor. He already had enough on his hands cleaning up everyone else's end results- both mortal, deity and entity much to his ire.
Suddenly Death had an idea. His furrowed brow straightened from his pale face and a slow, tentative smile graced his surprisingly delicate features. Maybe he could, no, he couldn't, could he? It was a terrible idea. Terrible. Horrible. There were so many things that could go wrong and it would be awfully irresponsible of him.
Actually why not?
Why was he, Death, the one to always clean up? How come the rules he had were iron clad? Why was he always the responsible one anyway? Chaos did what he liked. Fate, well she screwed with people on a daily basis. Even Time, one of the only entities older than him and was practically covered in laws and rules he had to follow, created something called Time Lords and magic phone boxes to amuse himself. And don't even get him started on Magic. What did he have? A few weapons of mass destruction, a veil that transports souls directly from the living to his world and three artifacts that when put together would give a human a very special title among other things. God, everyone was right. He was kind of boring.
Death wasn't even technically going to break any rules anyway. Just... bend them a little.
Besides what would Order even do if he did? Kill him? That'll be a laugh.
So with a decisive nod, the entity of Death snapped his fingers and set to work. First was to write a quick clear message to everyone important that he would be for all intensive purposes 'gone' for an unplanned period of time. Next was to summon all his subjects spanning from all worlds and planes that held considerable power; from the Dementor Lord to the goddess Hel to Lucifer; and personally inform them the same thing in a bit more detail. They weren't exactly happy at the news but all were surprisingly rather accepting of the declaration (the only complication was that everyone practically demanded he'd still keep in touch with them all and make a visible effort in maintaining his paperwork). Death nobly ignored the small golden skull among other treasures being exchanged behind backs, as well as the way too gleeful look on Osiris's black-green face as most of the gold was passed to him.
He did not want to even touch the slowly growing suspicion his subjects had a betting pool on him for who knows what. Despite being the personification of Death, he sure was quite the pushover, he mused in absentminded bemusement.
After shooing everyone off with another snap of his fingers Death then focused on the initial problem. One very soulless Harrison Potter.
It hadn't been that long since the boy's soul had been taken from the body. Between the timing of worlds and dimensions, less than mere milliseconds had passed since the contact between one Avada Kedavra and crying infant. A good thing because for his plan to work Death required the body to be still warm and blood to still flow, otherwise the already rather unpredictable use of death and soul magic would be much more complicated than it already was.
He needed to swiftly make the necessary preparations, God there wasn't any time! Death, in a very human gesture, bit his lip as he crossed his arms nervously. Sudden bouts of risk-taking and acts of rebellion were not in his nature, not in Death's nature, he wasn't particularly volatile or the type to not think ahead. Death was always imminent, measured, planned. Everything marked down, every soul written, with sharp precision. Death in itself is not emotional, it is restrained and cold and simple. Death was not a means to an end but merely an end in itself. Death was natural, Death does not should not go against the flow of nature, of life, it shouldn't change, it should maintain.
Yet here he was, about to change everything, jumping foolhardily into something he didn't even research beforehand and only now realizing the potential mayhem he might cause- oh Chaos must be clapping his hands and laughing maniacally at his usually unflappable mature older brother right now. And he could practically see Judgement at the same time, frowning disappointedly at him in that condescending holier than thou way of his.
"It'll be okay." He reassured himself admonishingly. He was Death after all. It was more than a little embarrassing to think something like this was causing the personification of the end of life itself to fret like some teenager readying themselves to go on their first date. Suddenly the image of a stereotypical reaper awkwardly fidgeting with a bright red tie as it sat on some fancy mortal restaurant made the worry slipped ever so slightly off his face as the corner of his lip twitched into a wry smile.
"Well, I've always wanted a vacation anyway." He softly joked to the empty room. And then proceeded to half-heartedly chuckle at his own joke like that wasn't sad at all.
And with that dry piece of humor Death promptly plunged his hands into his chest cavity, into the pure power that was concentrated there like black snakes twisting against each other. Gritting his teeth, slim fingers grazed over the strands of power, searching for the perfect place to claw into, picturing the small black haired little boy with the wide green eyes completely unaware of the blood that had been shed in his home. Words of ancient incantations from civilizations long ago flowed out without thought, as if the magic just knew and pushed the chant off his tongue like honey. It took agonizing seconds but he had felt the resonance tug at him. Acting completely on instinct instead of intellect, the entity failed to completely ready himself for the sensation as he twisted his fingers between flesh and power and magic.
Then Death pulled.
For thirty anti-climatic seconds, absolutely nothing happened. As Death was contemplating his current situation, hands stuck in that nasty, sticky place between his ribs, saturated with his power to the point of tangibility squirming between his digits in a very discomforting way, the entity found himself regretting his rather illogical train of thought that led him to where he was now. And he just knew that his favorite silk robes were never going to recover from this gory aftermath either.
However before the entity began to extract his limbs out of his torso much to his irritation, disappointment and a bit of relief at the failure; Death felt a resounding lurch at his midsection. The feeling of being burned and constricted consumed him, if he had any breath or existent lungs they would have been promptly winded at the sudden drop in oxygen, the whole experience was completely wrapped in a blinding bright green light.
The green light of the all-so-feared unforgivable spell practically blazed in eagerness from the yew wand. Lord Voldemort looked on impassively at the baby, Harry Potter, the Boy Who Was Going To Die In About 3 Seconds. It was a shame really. What a pathetic end to the Noble House of Potter. He almost felt bad at the loss.
Well. Not really.
Crimson eyes snapped to reality as he felt an unfamiliar sharp tug in his magic. The familiar Killing Curse that usually flowed so easily through his wand felt strained and taunt like a string pulled apart at the very strands. Voldemort, as aggressive as he was, instead of trying to break off the spell, pumped even more of his magic through. It should be impossible, the curse was supposed to be, no, is instantaneous. The child should be dead and cold by now, looking at him with blank, unseeing eyes.
But Harry Potter wasn't dead, he didn't even look like he was affected by it. Instead of dull glassy eyes staring at him helplessly, they glowed. What was once green as the forest was slowly turning brighter, more vibrant, like those wide pupils were absorbing the Killing Cur-
Immediately the rising Dark Lord forcefully slammed his magical flow off, sharply cutting off the spell. The abruptness of ending such a sheer amount of power, intent coupled with his tainted Dark magic and complexity of the curse, however, was not without consequences. Pain worse than any Cruciatus wracked the serpentine man's body. In retrospect, if the dark wizard hadn't been so taken off guard, a bit more aware or a little less insane, he might have recognized the feeling of pain. He would have recognized the torment of having a soul broken.
And as the last electric green tendrils were passed into the eerily silent infant, pained crimson eyes could only watch as now Avada Kedavra green eyes flashed with something that Voldemort could not identify. It wasn't Dark. It wasn't Light. It wasn't even Grey. It just... Was. And it filled the man with a fear he hadn't felt since he was just a young child when he realized how easy it was for people to die, like little Billy's unfortunate pet rabbit.
That was Lord Voldemort's last coherent thought before the backlash of his own Curse burst himself into ashes.
Death, or now he guessed he really should refer himself as Harrison Potter. Or Harry. Harry Potter sounded nice. God this was all very exciting. Either way, he watched with intrigued eyes as this albino snake-man that had oh-so-kindly wished to murder the previous owner of this child's body, said child's parents and probably their pet cat if they had one- had promptly disintegrated, turned into some sort wraith and fled the house. It was all rather unexpected, to say the least. Was the man important to Fate's plans? Something just felt distinctly 'wrong' about the now spirit-like mortal. A ritual gone wrong perhaps? He wondered...
But right now he didn't have the energy to really follow up on his curious train of thought. It probably wasn't even that vital anyway. Not to mention he wasn't Death right now. He was Harry James Potter. And Harry James Potter was tired and wanted a nice nap. It was going to be an interesting vacation as a living mortal and he needed a good long rest to prepare for what's to come after all. The whole 'wraith murderer thing' can be put aside for now. And so while Avada Kedavra green eyes fluttered shut, a small adorable quirked smile rested serenely on his deceivingly innocent young face as the immortal in a child's body dreamt dreams of adventure, opportunity, and a paperwork-free future.
Hopefully blissfully ignoring everything that had just occurred wasn't going to bite him back in the arse.