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Death is but the Next Great Adventure

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Magic and festivity hung in the air like the electricity charged atmosphere before a storm on that cold hallowed night. Frigid puddles interspersed over a slick deserted black road, and a wind that howled a mournful cry at the moon curled up into the air. Tucked into the warm and quiet house, a child slept soundly, ignorant of the harsh and dangerous world outside of his four walls.

 

With a thunderous boom the home was suddenly invaded by a serpent.

 

The toddler startled awake at the initial sound of the front door being blown into the house and he wiggled and stumbled up to look over the bars of his dark oak crib as a storm rolled into his home.

 

Footsteps pounded and echoed through the house like destructive hail battering every available surface.

 

The door to the innocent and encasing nursery was flung open as the frantic mother rushed to protect the lovely, wide-eyed, and rosy-cheeked child she had held protectively inside the walls of her own body for nine months.

 

For a moment, her gaze froze on the watery bright green eyes and puckered pouting lips of her precious, sweet boy and she feared that on some basic level he could understand that something was wrong. So very wrong. Pressing a trembling kiss to his head, the women turned around and prepared to offer anything to spare her precious boy. She knew that James was already gone from the gut-wrenching flash of green light, but she would give anything to save her son.

 

The serpent glided into the nursery on dirty, mud-slicked bare feet and leveled a bone white wand at the redhead’s chest. The tear-streaked face crumpled at the sight of the wand and pleas filled the room as thunder and rain permeated the house that was no longer a home.

 

“Please! Not- . . . not my Harry! T-take me instead! He’s-he-he’s just a baby! Please!!” She begged the expressionless creature, calling out desperately with all of the magic left in her to ‘help him!’

 

“Step aside Mrs. Evans . . . I am here for the boy . . . I will spare your life if you step aside.” The hissing, emotionless words yanked a desperate sob from the mother and she continued her pleading. When her voice raised to a hysteric scream to not kill her baby, the woman’s voice was cut off by a sudden flash of green light that painted the room in the sickly pale green glow.

 

The confused and fussy infant began to cry louder as the snake drew closer and blazing red eyes met vivid green right before the final curse was released and both were cast from their bodies into the cold embrace of death.

 

Poor, beautiful Lily’s cries had not prevented her child from perishing, but they had granted an inkling of revenge that had flung the predator’s soul from his body.

 

She was heard, though.

 

Death had heard her pleas and watched curiously as the scene unfolded. Death curled its large skeletal hands around the shining beacon that was the child’s soul. Death was not omnipotent, but he could see that a soul so big and bright would have made a large impact on the human world. Caressing the burning little sun in his cold brittle palm, Death turned it over in his grip as he pulled it close to his chest and saw the faint, flickering blue sliver that had lodged there. 'Curious. . .'

 

Death knew quite a lot about the wizard named Tom Marvolo Riddle. Such a large and bright soul. Once Tom had cheated Death by the sly magic human’s call a Horcrux, Death could barely keep his curious eyes off of the rising wizard. After millenniums of stories being cut far too short to be entertaining, Death had grown bored and restless. Death’s first dabbling in the mortal world ended badly with three dead brothers and three very powerful objects that should not have been brought into the living world for just any wizard to use unregulated. When Tom came along, things were interesting at first, but eventually he grew tired of all of Tom's easily cut down enemies as well.

 

The prophecy had peaked Death’s interest, but the slight misinterpretation and Tom immediately taking out the ‘chosen one(s)’ meant an unexpected end for the entertainment possibilities that came with the prophecy. Tom would return—as he knew he would—and the world would fall easily under the foot of the insane Dark Lord. Unless. . .

 

Death looked down at the brilliant soul in his cold dead grasp and chuckled. 'Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve meddled!' Death felt giddy as he ghosted a bony fingertip over the soul and it fluttered.

 

‘I will make you a deal, little one. I will send you back into the world of the living . . . if you can survive until the day of your eleventh birthday without my intervention, if you can survive the being that will come after you and the harsh reality that awaits, I will give you something in return. I can see what your soul yearns for, and if you survive these next few years, you will receive the tools to obtain it.’ The soul in Death’s grasp flared in response before he continued.

 

‘Survive, and you will need not fear me, for I will become an ally. Survive, and make this world interesting. . .' Death would have grinned at the sporadic and eager flickering of the soul, but without lips, the morbid grin was eternal.

 

Death carried the soul closer to the veil between the dead and the living and watched the sight before him with detached intrigue. A man in pooling black robes was now holding onto the limp, dead mother of his new companion and crying out like his soul had been ripped from his body. Death had witnessed countless scenes just like this and had found each just as fascinating as the last, when the people around the mortals mourned and grieved. Everything eventually dies, so why were they so shocked and hurt when it happened?

 

Death moved into the physical world, invisible and completely unnoticed by the grieving man. Someone who wasn’t supposed to die, though, that he should mourn. Death may not have been planning on bringing the immortal snake’s equal into the world, but now he felt a reverent anticipation that he’d never felt before. Death approached the crib and looked down at the still-warm little body that lay lifeless on the soft blue blanket like a doll that had been tossed aside. Looking back down at bright ball of light in his hands, Death waved a hand over the soul and imbued it with an insignificant portion of his magic. Once the soul’s light flared blindingly bright, Death placed it back into the little body gently.

 

Immediately, the rapid little fluttering of a healthy—and very much alive—tiny heart filled the room and Death grinned his permanent grin down at the vivid green eyes that blinked open and stared right at them. Not a single cry or whimper came from the child as it watched the invisible being above its crib with chilling and intense green eyes.

 

‘Don’t worry, Harry. I will watch over you.’ Death whispered in his rustling, toneless voice.

 

Even after Death receded back into the safety of the veil, he felt as though those wild emerald eyes were still watching him.

 

                    

 

The morning that Petunia Dursley and her husband, Vernon Dursley, found the little bundle in a basket on their doorstep was the same day that the thin and haughty woman realized that the devil came in many forms. Petunia had always been religious more for the image that it painted of her—as a righteous and loving house wife and mother—but from the moment that those cold, chilling eyes blinked open and settled on her, she felt a greater fear of the inexplicable than she ever had before.

 

With no choice but to accept the frightening child into her home, Petunia did her best to keep her nephew as far away from her Duddums so as not to taint or corrupt him. She hung more crucifixes all around her home and made sure to attend church with her husband and child as frequently as possible. The boy was also given a space in the cleared out cupboard under the stairs because it was the farthest from her Dudley that she could put him without making the boy sleep outside.

 

Harry, the boy’s name was Harry. Petunia recalled one of the few letters her sister had sent her over the years mentioning something about it being a family name on her husband’s side. When she read the brief note left with the boy on her doorstep and saw his name, she audibly scoffed and felt disgust towards her nephew’s namesake. Although ‘Harry’ was a rather normal name, knowing that it had come from that kind of people, made her feel sick just using it. So she called him other things, impersonal or even insulting names because she couldn’t hold in the repulsion inside of her and otherwise would do something irrational like try to ‘get rid’ of the child while he was still too young to fend for himself. Little things here and there kept her from throttling the boy or dumping him in an unfamiliar neighborhood and driving away.

 

The child, as she came to realize, was far more odd than any other that she’d encountered. As an infant, he never cried or threw tantrums—which she was thankful for, because she didn’t know what she or her husband would do if that weren’t the case. It was still odd, though. He wasn’t void of emotion or outbursts, but in times when any other baby would have cried or screamed or grizzled, he just sat quietly and watched you as he waited for you to give him what he needed.

 

As the infant grew into a child, his eyes became no less haunting. In fact, as the toddler developed into a small child his face became quite angelic and the epitome of innocence. Petunia will never admit it to anyone, but there were times when she doubted her approach to the boy. Sometimes she would look at her nephew and he would look so sweet and pure, incapable of doing harm to anyone, but then all she’d have to do is look into his eyes and remember where the abomination came from and where he would go later and the delusion dispersed.

 

It was around the time that he was four that the ‘incidents,’ that his kind were prone to have in childhood, became too much to be ignored: pictures would fly off of the walls when he was punished for a mistake, all of the flowers in her precious garden shriveling and dying when he was locked in his cupboard without food, everyone in the family except him coming down with a horrible stomach virus when Petunia lectured him about trying to upstage her son in school and how vanity and pride were sins.

 

Eventually, Vernon and Petunia had to shut down any notion that using that . . . sorcery in any capacity was wrong and the consequences were severe. Petunia was quite proud of her own resolve for never raising a harmful hand to the child, no matter how much she wanted to. There were cuffs upside the head and shoves, but Petunia always prided herself on being productive and efficient. So punishments usually meant longer hours in the garden, deep cleaning the carpets, and other tasks that she didn’t have time for on top of his other household duties.

 

Despite how well she felt she was doing raising the monster who had forced his way into her home, she knew—he knew—that she held no love or affection for the boy, and would not disillusion him into thinking he that he was welcome there. Monsters with the faces of angels were to be feared above all else.

 

                    

 

The call of crows rang through the autumn air in the distance and a chilling wind swept through the branches, carrying with it the scent of decaying leaves. Harry had turned 8 the summer previous and had finally saved up enough money and was old enough to get his own library card at the local library. Harry had to pick up every bit of change off of the street—as well as a few coins out of Petunia’s purse—in order to afford the rather cheap library card. Harry forged Vernon’s signature and had been slipping books back into his cupboard without anyone knowing. The multiple times that Harry had asked his aunt or uncle to get him one, they’d laughed in his face, tutted, and told him that there was no use in wasting the money to educate him if he ‘just wasn’t going to amount to much anyways!’ They’d also said something about not having time to read along with all of his other chores.

 

Currently, he’d just finished putting a ham in the oven for a few guests who would be coming over later and was sitting outside on the left-hand side of the house between the brick and the fence with a book he’d brought back with him. Living in a world where everything he owned was either handed down to him from his cousin or small and insignificant things that he’d pinched over the years, knowledge was a possession he craved above all else because it couldn’t be taken from him once he gained it.

 

Harry didn’t consider himself some sort of child prodigy or genius—he was only eight—he just saw the value of a sharp mind and as much knowledge as it could carry in that moment. Harry liked to read many different things, from adventure stories to simple principles of science to words of wisdom from great people. His favorite, though, was always anything to do with people from unfortunate circumstances achieving the impossible. Call it wishful thinking.

 

Harry sighed and closed the book in his lap after reading the same paragraph three times without retaining anything. Recently, the bizarre ‘incidents’ have been happening more frequently and in growing strength. On top of that, Harry keeps having strange dreams that are not quite nightmares and not quite soothing either. Sometimes he dreams about an orphanage with children just as vicious as Dudley harassing him and a perpetual chill that settled into his bones, and sometimes he dreams about a cloaked figure who likes to talk to him and ask him questions like the friends in his stories do.

 

Harry never remembers exactly what was said when he awoke, but he could remember basic subjects they’d discussed or bits of advice the figure had given him. Harry would have been worried about having to dream up a companion who cares about him, but he knows that there isn’t much he can do about it at this point. Harry wasn’t exactly the most inviting when it came to friendship—he found it hard to connect to people, especially when Dudley scared all of his potential friends away by spewing the same barmy nonsense his aunt and uncle liked to drill into his head about being evil or Dudley would intimidate them with his new wanna-be-thug friends.

 

Anyways, the dreams were happening more frequently too and—for some reason—Harry got the feeling that the conversations were leading up to something. Harry knew that they were just dreams and he was just being paranoid, but the feeling hadn’t left yet and it was beginning to affect him in his waking hours. Whatever that figure is hinting at, he certainly seems pleased with what he thinks is coming.

 

His mind must truly be desperate for an adventure as great as his stories, because the figure in his dreams always seemed to somehow bring up the notions of ‘magic’ and how Harry was magic! At first, he felt a little pathetic with how much he wanted to believe the mysterious being, but then again, how could he explain the . . . ‘incidents?’ He knew how his relatives explained it—he was worshiping the devil, a delinquent and prankster, he was being punished for the mistakes of his parents—but Harry had long since stopped holding a candle to anything his relatives said. Whether the being in his dreams actually had a clue about what was going on or if he was just deluding himself, he had no way of knowing.

 

The wind kicked up with another spiteful gust and Harry pulled his limbs in closer to his body. He clutched the closed book close to his chest and listened to the lively noises coming from the house with detachment. Harry’s mind drifted as he imagined the insistent wind finally taking hold of the clothes it teasingly tugged at and whisking him away, or sinewy and dirty tree roots bursting from the dirt beneath him and dragging him back down into the earth.