Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and Captain America belongs to Marvel
Life After Life: Chapter One: Lover of Death
AN: This is the Hope PotterxBucky Barnes AU that so many people have been asking for, featuring Hope as Death. I'm not sure if this fic will be very long, but I guess we'll just have to see. Death, in this fic, is genderfluid.
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
In the beginning there was nothing.
There was nothing for the longest time, and out of that nothingness came two beings, Life and Death. Life and Death were two sides of the same coin, borne of each other. Creation and destruction, light and darkness. One could not exist without the other, or so the saying came to be known.
Life was the beginning and Death was the end.
Over time, however, Death fell back into the shadows and Life was thrust into the light. Perhaps that was the way it was only meant to be.
In the time of the Greeks, Life became associated with the primordial god Chaos, from which the first titans were created, because that was what Life did; Life created.
Death was associated with exactly what they were, the god of death, Thanatos.
Nyx, the goddess of night, was the one that had gifted the name to Death, a kindness for one such as her that so often lived in darkness.
"Perhaps you deserve more than to be considered a minor deity," Nyx had said, her face luminous like the stars had been painted across her god-made skin. "You were the first of us."
Death had been flattered, smiling at the goddess kindly. "One of the first," they said humbly, "my sibling and I were created at the same time, no one came first, no one was superior to the other."
Nyx had blinked her eyes, so like galaxies contained in those orbs, regret blooming across her features. "And yet they will remember Life as Chaos, the being from all things were sprung, and Death as Thanatos, the brother to Hypnos and son of Nyx, and for that I am sorry."
"'Tis not so bad," Death smiled, "to have you for a mother, nor Hypnos for a brother."
"I think perhaps you are being far too kind," Nyx said.
"When you are as old as I am and have seen as much," Death said, "you will understand."
Death had seen far too much suffering and experienced far too much suffering to be angry at being considered less powerful than they truly were. Death was not like the newer gods, who so often smote mortals they felt had displeased them.
Death was patient and Death was kind, and that was all they knew.
"You seem sad," Life said.
Death looked upon their sibling. Life was most often in the form of a youthful girl with a radiance that Helios couldn't even hope to compare to, eyes gleaming and smile wide.
It was a contrast with Death's typical form as a male with eyes a solid onyx with hair in bronze ringlets and so fair that he could have easily compared with a corpse.
"Death is sobering," he said.
"But you're lonely," his sister said and Death looked away. "Please, I wish you all the happiness in the world, brother, let me do you this one favor."
"And what favor would that be?" Death asked.
"Let me craft you someone," Life said, speaking gently and carefully as though hoping to not upset him, taking his hands gently. "Someone for you, completely yours."
"Sister," Death took a step back, wrenching his hands from her grip, "I would never ask another to tie themselves to me mindlessly. Others have suffered for less."
"They would have the free will to choose you, if it was their wish," Life pressed, "but you would know them for who they were from the first moment your eyes meet, from the moment their voice touches your ears. They would be the only one who could possibly complete you…who could make you smile and laugh. My brother, it has been so long since I've heard you laugh."
"Perhaps you worry too much, Sister," Death sighed. "You don't need to do anything for me."
"But I want to," she said, pressing a light kiss against his brow before stepping back, bringing her hands together, a warm glow emitting from the space between them until she was holding a new soul in her hands, and there was a sharp jolt in Death's stomach as she bound them together through time and space before sending the soul off towards the Earth, towards Greece, and Death followed foolishly.
His name was Linus, the son of Apollo, and he made Aias smile and laugh, showing him how to sting a lyre and whispering sweet nothings in his ear.
There was nothing quite like seeing the golden halo of his curls against the grass, or feeling his fingers run along the length of Aias' arm before curling behind his neck, bringing him down to tease his lips with his own, kissing him until they were both bright cheeked and breathless, murmuring each other's names as though they were prayers.
But Linus, the son of Apollo, was as arrogant as he was kind, and he was very kind. One day he said too much, boasted too much of his skill over his father's and Apollo, angry at the slight, had struck down his own son right in front of Aias.
Aias had watched his love breathe his last breath before looking to Apollo who had recognized him on sight and faltered in fear of retribution for the death of his lover.
But Death was not like Apollo, and Death would see his lover again.
She was Roman and her name was Charis, and the tragedy of it all was that she was a Vestal Virgin, forbidden from men by taking a vow of chastity before the goddess, Vesta, of the hearth.
Accius knew better than to pursue Charis, because he knew what would happen if he did, he knew how Vestal Virgins were treated if they broke their vows, he had carried many souls away from the pyres in which they had been burned alive.
So he kept his distance until the day of the terrible accident when Charis, so foolhardy, had decided to carry an armful of heavy scrolls to another portion of the temple only to trip over her sandals and take a tumble down the stairs, cracking her head fatally on the stone.
Accius watched the blood pool from the wound and then he watched the soul leave her, and he followed it.
Death had lived for so long and had watched so many versions of their same lover die and live over and over again that some days they had to wonder if it was truly worth it to experience the pain of loss each time their reincarnated lover died. There was even a brief period of time where Death had wondered if that had been Life's goal all along, to see her suffer so, but it was not in Life's nature to be cruel in that manner, and it never had been.
Yet still Death's sadness and their loneliness remained.
For a time, they even left the Earth to take refuge on Asgard, one of the Nine Realms of which they had helped to craft, though preferring to remain in the boundaries of Earth, merely because of it being the one least complicated. They had stayed there for centuries, even knowing their lover had lived and died and lived again.
The goddess Hela was the Asgardian Goddess of Death, so Death had been drawn to her even before they had caught sight of the decaying side of her face.
She was beautiful and fierce and Death took the form of a woman when she was her lover for the centuries that they were together, and when Hela looked at her, she saw a woman with thick dark hair like pools of ink and eyes bluer than the sky. When Death looked on Hela, she saw the slender wrists that belied hidden strength, ripping her into shadow with icy kisses pressed along her jaw by sarcastic lips.
Death would never regret her time on Asgard, and she would never regret the daughter she had borne, Brynja, the keeper of souls.
"Go back to Midgard, Death," Hela said to her sadly one day as they watched their daughter dance amongst the partygoers, seeing how Thor picked her up and set her on his shoulders with a mighty laugh, having no idea he was touching the daughter of Hela and Death herself. "I hate to see you so solemn and Brynja misses your smiles."
Death gave her lover one just to be impish, but Hela didn't respond in the way she anticipated.
"I would hate to leave her and leave you," Death said.
It had been so long since she'd sired a child and even more so since that child had been born immortal, but Death's lovers had so often been mortal and the lines of her children had all but died out.
"You've already lost me," Hela said, cupping her cheek with a hand, "you are just too stubborn to see it."
Death looked away. Sometimes it was hard to remember that she was one of the first beings to be created.
"And nothing can stop you from coming to see her, I would never take that right from you," Hela promised, her lips pulling down on the charred side of her face that Death found most beautiful. "But you aren't happy here, go, be where you can be."
And Death did, after embracing her joyous daughter one last time.
She took the name Lillian Kosta and she made a home for herself at Bletchley Park. Espionage was at least something she was rather familiar with over the years, and Death's current form was quite beautiful with a head of hair the color of roses and eyes greener than the grass. The Special Operations Executive had noticed her skill early into getting herself situated in London, and they had convinced her to join their faction almost immediately.
Charon ferried souls daily from the war that had consumed the world, the Nazis pressing forward and the Allies pressing back, neither willing to yield.
Despite being Death, Lillian had no wish for so many souls to enter Hades; death was never happy unless it was wanted.
She knew how to defend herself, she knew how to break bones without hardly a touch, she was a deity, and that hadn't changed since her creation, but, even better, Lillian knew how to use her skills to her advantage; most of the information the Allies gained concerning the Nazis tactics came from her or from a colleague of hers by the name of Margaret Carter whom everyone in the SOE knew as Peggy.
That was how she earned the name Siren, because it was one thing to be beautiful, it was another to use that beauty to outsmart one's enemies and kill them.
And it was a talent that had gotten her noticed by the Strategic Scientific Reserve, her and Peggy both. The look of surprise on Lillian's face when she'd been called into her superior's office had been replicated on Peggy's, but it had been so long since Lillian had experienced the thrill of battle and she longed for it again, so she told her superior yes and she hopped on the first flight to New York with what little material possessions she possessed, which were remarkably few, and it was then, for the first time in many years that Death's life would begin.
James Buchanan Barnes, preparing to embark for the front lines, knocked into someone as they knocked into him, and he paused before taking the figure in. She was unbelievably pretty, even with a frown marring her red-painted lips.
"What's a pretty doll like yourself doing in a place like this?" Bucky asked, grinning widely.
The woman –more likely, she was a siren, if he was being perfectly honest– was startled briefly, looking at him like she'd been expecting something different, and then she became unimpressed, arching an eyebrow, sanguine curls tightly set and eyes greener than a forest.
"Darling," she said, the English accent thick, "I was young even before time was accurately recorded. Trust me, I'm no doll, so you best keep that tongue behind your teeth if you know what's good for you."
And Bucky grinned, ready for a challenge, but then she turned away to duck into the taxi that appeared to have materialized just outside the airport, not even looking back, but Bucky got the strangest feeling their paths would cross again, and he looked forward to it.
AN: This is just the prologue, I'm sure there'll be more to come eventually. I really liked the idea of Hela and Death being in a relationship, and their daughter is purely fictional. I'm not sure how long the chapters will end up being, or how many there'll be, but this is likely to be the only one up for awhile.