The book landed in the middle of Aunt Petunia’s garden, crushing some of her flowers.
Harry scowled at it. Aunt Petunia would never believe that a book had just fallen in her garden out of nowhere and would surely blame Harry for it. Or worse, she would believe it and would still blame Harry for it. Either way, if he couldn’t fix it he was in trouble. And Harry really, really didn’t want to be in trouble.
He sighed, picked up the book, and did the best he could to fix the flowers. They were a little damaged but, thankfully, were not beyond repair. And they were towards the back of the flower bed, so it was likely that she wouldn’t even see them. He hoped. He’d gone a full three days without losing any meals, and he’d put on a little bit of weight as a result. He really didn’t want to start losing his meals again. He almost didn’t look entirely like a skeleton.
The smaller he was, the better a target he seemed to be for Dudley. And Harry was tired of being Dudley’s target, he really was.
He finished repairing the damage and went back to his regular work, forgetting all about the book he’d set aside until after he was done with the gardening. Then he had to mow the lawn and the book was in the way, so he picked it up and shoved it into the waistband of his pants. There it stayed until the end of the day, when he crawled into his cupboard. In fact, Harry only remembered it when he went to lie down and it jabbed him in the back.
He pulled the book out and studied it. “Death Note?” he whispered to himself, eyebrows rising. Surely this was someone’s awful idea of a joke.
Harry opened the book. On the first black page, in white lettering, was written The human whose name is written in this note shall die . Harry let out a small snort of laughter. Really? This seemed like a rather poorly thought out prank. He read over the other four rules just to amuse himself. A book that could kill in forty seconds?
He laughed a bit. He couldn’t stop himself. Yes, strange things happened around him sometimes, but that didn’t mean there was any such thing as magic. Life with the Dursleys had more than taught him that.
Harry wondered who the prank had been intended for, then shrugged. It didn’t matter. He shoved the book under the bed and forgot all about it. He had more important things to worry about than a book that could allegedly kill someone.
He needed to go to bed, anyway. He had a new flowerbed to dig out in the back for Aunt Petunia tomorrow and would need all the rest he could get if he wanted to get it done. Going in to a day like that both exhausted and hungry was a terrible idea, and he already knew he’d be hungry. He always was.
Harry managed to forget all about the book by the time he drifted off to sleep.
Harry remembered the book a month later, deep into summer, after the letters started arriving. It was terribly peculiar that letters like that should begin arriving after Harry had already found one strange object. He wondered if it was a coincidence at all, that the letter had been addressed to him in his cupboard the week after he’d found the strange book.
Maybe there was something to the book. Maybe the book really was magic and it wanted to be used. Maybe it had been given to Harry for a reason, and by ignoring it Harry was somehow offending the book. That could be one of the reasons that those strange letters were appearing.
But whose name could he write in the book? Harry didn’t particularly want to kill anyone. Not seriously, anyway. Still... He hunched over the book, a crayon in hand, thinking quite seriously. He had to know the person’s name, and what they looked like. His back twinged and Harry’s eyes widened. He couldn’t… Well. He could, actually, because Uncle Vernon was massive and unwell and prone to fits of temper at the best of times.
And he’d been awfully worked up for a week now, which couldn’t possibly be good for his blood pressure. Harry didn’t even need to try and think of a creative way for Uncle Vernon to die, because there was nothing suspicious about him having a heart attack at all.
Of course, the book probably wouldn’t do anything anyway and Harry shouldn’t get his hopes up.
Carefully, neatly, Harry wrote his first name in the book. Vernon Dursley . Then he waited.
It didn’t take long at all, just as the book had said it wouldn’t. He could hear Aunt Petunia screaming, could hear Dudley thundering down the stairs to get to the phone to dial for help, and he smiled because he knew it would do no good. It couldn’t possibly be a coincidence that the heart attack had begun forty seconds after he’d written the name.
Harry couldn’t stop the small, hysterical laugh from bubbling out of him. He’d killed his Uncle, and there was no way anyone could prove it was him. The rush of power from the act was phenomenal. Harry had never known such a feeling in his life.
All of his life he’d been helpless. Powerless. Judged inferior by those who surrounded him. He laughed again, not caring who could hear him. What would Dudley or his Aunt do to him? With this, he had more power than they could have ever imagined. With this, he was invincible.
He went to sleep for the first time in years with a smile on his face, the book hidden underneath of his thin mattress. Life was looking up, now.
He woke up to find a stranger staring at him.
He was lanky and pale and definitely not human. Harry would have been frightened were it not for the fact that he’d just murdered someone with a book last night. He was almost certain that the being’s appearance had something to do with that.. “Hello,” Harry said to him.
“Hey, kid. Gotta admit, you aren’t who I thought my book would go to,” the being said. “And then you didn’t use it, and I was starting to get really frustrated with you. But now you have. You up for some fun?”
Harry shrugged. “Define fun?” he requested.
The being laughed. “I like you. You’re…” He cocked his head to one side and Harry felt like he was being studied very closely. Particularly, the space just above his head seemed to be quite interesting to the being. “You’re very interesting! I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”
“If you say so,” Harry said. “I won’t use the Note that much, you know. Using it too much would be suspicious.” He thought that over and, now that it was morning and he was a bit more clear headed, realized something else. “And if my whole family dies I’ll wind up in the system, and I don’t want that. It’d be worse there than it is here.”
“Well, maybe you don’t have cause to use it much yet, but I bet you will.” The being let out a manic little laugh. “Ryuk, by the way. That’s my name. I’m the god of death that dropped that book for you.”
“Harry Potter,” Harry said. He held out one hand, and Ryuk took it. The god of death didn’t feel any different from a human, he supposed, just a bit colder.
“Say, Harry, got any apples?” Ryuk asked.
Harry shrugged. He couldn’t hear anyone moving outside his cupboard, so he opened the door. The house seemed empty. Petunia and Dudley were undoubtedly at the hospital, or somewhere, doing whatever it was that had to be done for a funeral.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out,” he said to the god of death.
They did, as it happened, and Harry handed one off to him while biting into one himself. As Ryuk munched happily on an apple, Harry got the mail and finally got to read one of the letters addressed to him. It told him all about a school of magic and wizardry called Hogwarts.
“Well,” he said to himself, staring at the letter in his hands. “This will be interesting.”
“Like I said,” Ryuk said. “We’re gonna have a great time, kid.”