Title: Harry Potter and the Cliché Stew
Disclaimer: I was planning to do more than a blanket 'not it!' for this story, but not only would that give away some plot twists but… well, some of the rights in question are complicated to untangle and attribute. At any rate, J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter universe, including everyone and everything that's a part of it. Anything else you recognize? Not mine, don't sue, et cetera and so forth.
Summary: Harry Potter dies. And then finds out he wasn't supposed to die. And gets sent back. And gets rich. And marries a bunch of women. Who don't fit in at all. Sound familiar? It should.
Joe's Note: This story will be very loosely based on… well, a whole lot of stories in the Harry Potter fandom at present, as it was created specifically to mock some of the more overused clichés in what pops up on the 60,000+ word section of these days. So, to repeat in case you missed what I said in the last two lines, this is not a story meant to be taken seriously. I've got elements of at least four different eyeroll-worthy overused plots in here, mushed together into one - hopefully - hilarious mess:
1.) An unusual individual or group gets dropped into Hogwarts/the wizarding world and has to integrate. Some manage it, although that's the minority of stories. Others aren't so good at blending in.
2.) Harry dies, meets 'Death', and gets sent back to unfuck his life as well as deliver a story with heaping spoonfuls of H/Hr - mostly owing to the fact that the majority of these stories stem from the same H/Hr-shipping challenge - along with Weasley bashing and either a worthless or bashed Dumbledore as well.
3.) Harry goes to Gringotts after Sirius dies and finds out - among other things - that he has to marry several women for some reason: he's the heir to multiple family lines that all want to be individuated by him taking wives and having heirs for them, Sirius was in that situation and it's since been passed to Harry, he's the Heir to the Founders, some combination of the above or even all three. Generally, since this involves lots of special inheriting and all, it goes hand in hand with…
4.) Harry goes to Gringotts after Sirius dies and finds out that he's not only inherited some money, property, and/or titles from Sirius, but that he's ludicrously rich in his own right because the Potters have vast wealth he was never told about by anyone.
Well, there will be no Harry/Hermione, minimal Weasley bashing, and Dumbledore is only bashed because… well, Rowling insisted on turning him into the puppet master of her books; there's really no way to criticize anything that happened in any of them in-story without it being a bash of Dumbledore. And finally, I know my selection of crossovers is… eclectic. I'll do my best to introduce everyone so you don't need to pop open four or five wikis to enjoy the story.
Dedications & Thanks: To Alexander, Nick, Nathan, MJ, Jessica, Ken, Aaron, Daniel, Vi9, William, Koby, Wil, Thomas, Christopher, Juan, Mitch, and Jess for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
Bellatrix Lestrange leapt to her feet, chest heaving as she panted and looked from Voldemort to Harry and back with a maniacal gleam in her eye… the only look she was capable of, Harry Potter was honestly beginning to believe. Save for her, the clearing was almost motionless; the only things that moved were the flames and Nagini, slowly slithering back and forth in the cage behind Voldemort's head as she eyed Harry.
Even as fast as he was and as adept at dodging spells as he'd become, Harry made no attempt to draw his wand and deal with Voldemort's living horcrux. The snake was too well defended even without being overtly protected; firing a spell at Nagini meant firing a spell at Voldemort, who would undoubtedly assume that he was the one under attack and counter with a shield. Harry, in turn, would be hit with the fifty or so spells sent by the Death Eaters in defense of their master. A lose-lose situation of the highest order.
And so instead Harry continued to hold Voldemort's gaze, until the older man tilted his head a little to the side and a singularly mirthless smile curled his lipless mouth. "Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived, as they say."
None of the Death Eaters moved; they clearly knew their master had something planned but it was just as clear that they had no idea what that plan was. Off to one side, Hagrid was struggling and then Harry's eyes landed on Bellatrix, and for some reason he couldn't help thinking of Ginny and the blazing look in her eyes when she felt passionate about something and the feel of her lips on his…
Slowly, Voldemort raised the Elder Wand, his head still tilted to one side like a curious child, perhaps wondering what would happen if he proceeded. It was a valid question in Harry's mind; Voldemort had tried it once at Godric's Hollow and had his body destroyed, tried it again in the graveyard and been affected by Priori Incantatem… would a third try with his new wand kill Harry as Dumbledore claimed was necessary, or result in another failure in front of all the remaining Death Eaters? Whatever was going to happen, Harry decided as he met those inhuman red eyes again, he wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand proudly, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear…
Voldemort's mouth moved and there was a flash of green light and then everything was gone…
"…so let me get this straight. I've died over thirty times so far since entering the wizarding world, some of those times supposedly more hilarious than others. Not really seeing how me dying could ever be considered funny, but maybe that's because it's me. At any rate, every time I die, I end up here talking to you and you send me back to try things again with a subconscious suggestion implanted so I don't die the same way again. Last time you even sent me back with all of my memories and some extra magical knowledge so I could finally beat Voldemort once and for all. Which should have done the trick, except Dumbledore used legilimency on me and then obliviated me because he was so sure that I had to die for Voldemort to be defeated that he didn't want me to even think there was an alternative. Thing is, he's completely wrong and so my sixth and seventh years have been a waste every time I make it that far. Oh, and to top it all off, my whole relationship with Ginny was a lie and she's been dosing me with a list of potions a mile long since the summer before my sixth year. Does that sound about right?"
So far, Harry's time in the Nexus - a stopover point for those between life and death because it was evidently a common enough thing that they needed a place for people like him - had been a mixture of boredom, irritation, disbelief, and depression. After being hit by the Killing Curse, he'd woken up in an all-white waiting room where a doppelgänger had helped him to his feet before proceeding to make a really stupid joke about being 'beside himself'. Following that little bout of bizarreness, Harry had whiled away the better part of half an hour watching the various occupants of the room, some of whom were human while others were most definitely not. The majority of the non-humans had been unfamiliar to him even after seven years in the wizarding world, making him wonder what they were and where they were from. In the human portion of the crowd, he'd found at least a dozen other copies of himself… which was actually more disturbing in his book than the random non-humans with blue skin or feathers or gills.
When he'd grown bored with that, he'd decided to take one of the few empty seats he could find, spending some time eyeing the gorgeous redhead he'd ended up sitting beside because… well, she was gorgeous. Then his Reaper had come to collect him from the waiting room and called the girl by name… and sweet Merlin, he still felt sick for being turned on by a girl version of himself. They'd spent a few minutes wandering through what had seemed like an endless, doorless white hallway before stopping in front of a random spot. A portal had opened to allow them to enter a rather spartan, very white office and he'd been sitting there ever since having all his preconceived notions about the last seven years of his life systematically destroyed.
His Reaper Michelle - she evidently had some sort of issue with the 'angel' in her official Angel of Death title because her 'work clothes' forced her to hide her wings - seemed to be having a disturbing amount of fun doing it, too. "That's the long and short of it. Although technically it was only Ginny's plan. She convinced Dobby that she was 'the great Harry Potter's future Missy Potter' and that if he helped her push things along and keep 'evil girlies' away, she'd make sure you hired him on to care for your family. She was even picking out names for the kids. So, if I were you? I'd talk to Dobby ASAP about what plans 'the great Harry Potter' actually has for his future. And obviously you should avoid any food or drink she tries to serve you at the Burrow if you visit. But ickle Gin-Gin messing with your head and heart - and a few other parts of you in dark corners - is the least of your problems." Reaching up, Michelle pulled off her glasses, the black plastic frames a stark contrast to her bubblegum pink hair and matching eyes. "But don't worry, I have the perfect plan to make sure that this is the last time we ever see each other. Well, technically it's not my plan; it's a contingency plan that He came up with and jotted down in the guidebook we all work from… but since I'm going to be the first Reaper to ever use it, I can probably get away with claiming it's mine."
"Not that I'm complaining about whatever help you want to give me, but…" Harry paused, wondering how to phrase things so he didn't unnecessarily offend the woman who held dominion over his life and death. Well, offend her or provoke another diatribe about how 'fucking retarded' he was for dying so many times in so many ways. He still couldn't believe he'd been killed by the basilisk while sneaking into Myrtle's bathroom to stir the polyjuice for Hermione, or that they'd all been crushed to death while attempting to escape Gringotts when the dragon managed to bring the entire bank down on top of them… "I mean, now that I know how far Dumbledore will go to keep me on the path he thinks I need to be on, you can just do the same thing as last time again and it'll turn out better, yeah?"
Michelle raised an eyebrow at that. "I'm not saying I don't trust you, Harry, but… actually, seeing as how we're not supposed to lie, I can't even finish that sentence. In the words of Albert Einstein? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. To be incredibly blunt, I don't think I can trust you to do the job anymore but since someone higher up the food chain decided to bind you and Voldemort together and you're the only way I can get that fucker down playing poker with Hitler where he belongs? I'm stuck working with you. Or in this case… stuck working through you. Or around you. Whatever."
Again biting his tongue to avoid provoking another batch of insults slung his way, Harry tried to figure out where she was going with all this? "So, if sending me back with memories and spells and such is out because I already blew my chance with that, what's the plan? Are you going to assign another angel to come with me and lead me along by the nose to make sure I do everything exactly right? Because if you are, please make them visible so I don't look like I'm a loony who constant talks to thin air. You can make people think they're a student who was always there, right?" Or… oh Merlin. What if Michelle was planning to come back with him personally? Hell, he'd hunt Voldemort down by the end of the summer just to get rid of her…
"Could? Yes. Will? No. Mostly because I'm sure as fuck not going to do it, and I'm not going to ask a fellow angel to do something that I'm not willing to do. That's just rude. No, while sometimes you actually got to find out about the true extent of what your parents or Sirius left you, there's more to your inheritance than just material wealth… and I'm going to take advantage of it to stack your deck, so to speak." Slipping her glasses back on, Michelle dug through the papers in the white folder in front of her for a moment before pulling out a family tree. Dragging two fingers along the paper, she zoomed it out to show generation after generation of his ancestors up both sides of his family tree. Once she reached whatever point she was looking for, Michelle began tapping on seemingly random boxes, causing each to glow a different color and begin tracing a path downwards towards where his box waited at the very bottom of the page. The longest-running and most prominent was a bright red line that ran along the left side of the tree, and Michelle ran her finger along it for a moment before launching into an explanation. "This is the line of headship for the Noble and Most Honorable House of Potter. With your grandfather an only child and dead, your father an only child and dead, and you an only child… you're obviously the heir. You also inherit the headship of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black because…" Again she used her finger to emphasize a line on the tree, this one the purple line branching off his father's box to his paternal grandmother's, Michelle's actions causing the boxes to wriggle and rearrange to make room for a whole new branch of the family tree. "…you're related to the Blacks via Dorea Potter née Black. With me so far or do I need to go back and use smaller words?"
Bristling, Harry narrowed his eyes at her. Even if she was an angel and in charge of what happened to him in the afterlife - or yet another chance at life - he'd had just about enough of the abuse. Just because he'd made a few mistakes in his life and wasn't unnecessarily confrontational didn't mean he was going to let her walk all over him, damn it. "Maybe you should repeat yourself. I got the gist of it but I think I missed some of the details. I know I heard 'when you go back, make sure you look Dumbledore in the eyes again', though…"
Rather than growing angry at him, Michelle surprised Harry by letting out a rueful chuckle and running her hand through her hair. "Touché. I'm sorry. I'm just… do you have any idea how humiliating this whole thing is for me? The only Reaper who gets less respect is Cordelia, and that's because her star client is She-Who-Chokes-to-Death-Slobbering-On-Knobs." Harry blinked owlishly and she clarified. "The redhead you were checking out? Yeah, saw her file on the way in. This is her third straight death by erotic asphyxiation. Turns out having something shoved down your throat for long periods of time gets in the way of breathing properly. Who'da thunk it?"
"And you say I have embarrassing deaths. At least you're not her Reaper."
"Amen to that, Harry. Amen to that. Anyways, getting back to this family tree of yours… we've established that you're the heir to the Houses of Potter and Black through your father and Sirius respectively. But this is where it gets interesting. You're not just the heir to those two families. And you're not the heir to three families, or even four. You're the heir to five separate families. Which means that there are five separate headships to claim if you want." Abruptly sobering, Michelle's odd pink eyes bored into Harry's. "And after you hear this plan of mine… trust me, you're going to want it." Tapping her finger against the family tree, Michelle frowned as she studied it for a long second before shaking her head and looking back up at Harry. "Doubt we really need the visual aids, to be honest. Third and fourth families are similar situations: one family married their eldest daughter and heiress into the Potters, the other merged into the Blacks. So through your father, you're actually head of the Houses of Potter and Rashleigh: your paternal grandfather's mother was the Rashleigh heiress. In the case of the Blacks, the intermarriage is a bit further up the family tree but suffice to say that you're now the head of the House of Cavendish through Sirius along with being the head of the Blacks. The fifth family… the fifth family is where it gets sticky. Have you ever heard of the Peverells, Harry?"
Harry let out a little snort at that; even though he probably shouldn't have felt quite so arrogant given that he hadn't known of them until recently, now that he was part of the wizarding majority who did… "Of course. The three brothers who received the Deathly Hallows. Well, Dumbledore thought it was more likely that they made the Hallows, but either way… Antioch with the Elder Wand, Cadmus with the Resurrection Stone, and Ignotus with the Cloak of Invisibility. I'm related to Ignotus and his cloak was passed all the way down to me. Voldemort's related to them too. What do they…" Suddenly, realization dawned and Harry let out an incredulous laugh. "Wait, let me guess. This is where you tell me that I'm either the only living descendent of any of the three brothers, or at least the one at the front of the line of succession for head of the family?"
Head bobbing, Michelle decided to change her mind and used her fingers to isolate and bring more detail to a rich gold line that ran up the left side of the tree, mostly intertwined with the red of the Potter line until it split at Osmundus Potter, the red line continuing to the left with Galfridus Potter while the gold line branched off to Osmundus's mother Dyonisia Peverell. "Long story short? Three brothers. Antioch was the oldest. He loaned the headship ring to Cadmus for his experiments with the Resurrection Stone and then got himself killed before he could reclaim it, passing the headship to Cadmus. Cadmus, contrary to popular belief, had no heirs because hello? His whole thing was wanting to see his dead fiancée again. He committed suicide to be with her, passing the headship to Ignotus. When he died, Ignotus divided the two Hallows in his possession between his two sons: his eldest became the head of the house and received the ring and the Resurrection Stone, while his younger son received the Cloak of Invisibility. The elder son's family intermarried into the Slytherin line and eventually became the Gaunts, from whom your nemesis is descended. You can see where the Peverells married into the Potters and the Cloak of Invisibility entered your family. Through some fairly complex rules of inheritance of their own making, Merope Gaunt - and therefore Tom Riddle - were ineligible to inherit any power when Marvolo and Morfin died. So now the House of Gaunt is extinct and the House of Peverell breaks itself free and reverts to its traditional rules of inheritance. Rules that put you first in line to inherit."
Harry furrowed his brow, looking back and forth between his family tree and Michelle. So what? He now had even more dead relatives - and presumably money and property - than before. How did this help him any? He'd already been rich through what he inherited from his parents and Sirius. How did being the head of five families fit into some master plan of hers? "…okay? I think I'm missing something here. Either that or you 'long story short'ed over some very important information. I knew about my family's money and the money and property I got from Sirius, but if these headships are so important, why didn't anyone ever tell me about them so I could do… whatever it is you're evidently planning for me?"
"Who exactly would have told you, Harry? The only time Hermione read up on traditional wizarding culture was when she was trying to overturn a piece of it and force modern muggle culture on the wizarding world. Ron, who was already jealous of your money and fame? Dumbledore, whose plans involved you being dead by twenty? Ginny knew about the loophole I'm planning to use, but that's exactly why she wouldn't have told you." Michelle used her finger to draw a series of boxes next to Harry's on the paper, linking them to his before adding a downward line from each connecting mark and attaching a box. "You having five headships matters because the wizarding world prefers those who are heirs to multiple houses to have multiple children so that those lines can emerge back into the population. A bunch of your classmates actually have younger siblings at other schools who have different last names, who were born specifically to breed out family lines that would otherwise be extinct after the first war. But - and here's the part Ginny knew and I'm going to take full advantage of - they want it so bad that they have a loophole in the law that allows you to take one wife per family to increase the odds of you getting all five of those children. And maybe even a few spares to boot."
For some reason, Harry couldn't even bring himself to be surprised. What Michelle was saying made perfect sense, at least if you were a stuffy old witch or wizard who cared about that kind of thing. And considering they were pretty much the entirety of the Wizengamot, even when Dumbledore was alive and leading them… yeah. He really wasn't surprised in the least. "You do realize that I can't even think of… I mean, Ginny is out for obvious reasons and Hermione would be like marrying my mother and my sister at the same time. I could maybe - and I emphasize maybe - marry Luna. She might even be okay with sharing me; Merlin knows she's one odd duck. But that's only one wife. The only other girls I've ever even talked to? One keeps crying on me because I saw her last boyfriend die, and the rest are either taken or scary. And even if Hermione wouldn't feel like two flavors of incest at once, Ginny wasn't a stalker, and Cho was stable, I don't see how marrying them - and Luna - would help me any."
"Well, if you married them all, at least when you died again it might be with a smile on your face?" Michelle waited a few beats to see if Harry cracked a smile, rolling her eyes and continuing when he didn't. "Maybe I can add a sense of humor along with everything else before I send you back. At any rate, I told you that you could have up to five wives. I didn't say you'd get to pick them for yourself. I'm going to. Well, a few of us are going to. I'm teaming up with some other Reapers to find useful women who died before they were supposed to but who - at the same time - aren't critical enough to their world to be given a second go of it. We're going to offer them two choices: move on or be turned into teenage girls and sent to help you. Considering how many people pass through here, I'm sure we'll find you some qualified help in no time."
Harry couldn't help himself, his jaw dropping as he stared at Michelle in disbelief. Mostly because he'd seen some very strange stuff go by while he was out in the waiting room, and even if they picked humans? How was he supposed to explain strange new girls showing up in his life. "…you're going to what?"
Smirking, Michelle nodded in the direction of a stack of folders that were sitting on her desk next to his own, fairly thick file. "We've been compiling candidates since your twenty-eighth death just in case this came to pass. Granted they're not technically the most qualified people in existence - they're here in the Nexus after all - but we think we've found some who will work out well. Actually, we've got more than we need at this point; I'm still trying to narrow down from our twelve semi-finalists to the final five that you'll be marrying."