Harry Potter opened his eyes and groaned. Though he didn't know it, today marked the first anniversary of his imprisonment within Azkaban Prison. He didn't know that, of course, because time had long since lost any meaning.
"Good morning, Albus."
Harry looked over to the rear right corner of the dark and moldy cell. There, sitting in a nearly transparent chair, was the spirit of Albus Dumbledore.
"Good morning, Harry. How are you doing this morning?"
Harry sat up and stretched his back, the pops echoing loudly off the stone walls. He heard the screams and sobs of his fellow prisoners but ignored them with practiced ease. His stomach ached with a familiar emptiness. He glanced over at his "dinner" from the previous night. He wasn't sure what animal the meat had came from, but at this point there was only a small collection of bones left over. With a sigh, he confirmed that he had once again failed to leave anything on those bones for him to have some breakfast.
"It's Azkaban, Albus, so you know… couldn't be better."
Albus silently watched Harry as he walked around the cell for about ten minutes to stretch his legs. Eventually, his energy ebbed, and he sank down on the floor, his back against the cold wall.
"So… Albus, how is your great plan for my life going?"
Albus's spectral eyes rolled. "Can we go one day without rehashing this conversation, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "Well, we could talk about the latest news, but I have no idea what is going on outside of this cell. Do you have any news?"
"You know that I am chained to you and have no more news than you."
"Well, then I suppose we will just have to discuss the last news update. Did you hear that all my friends and the Ministry of Magic betrayed me after I defeated Voldemort, saying I was too powerful and embittered against the government to have me walking free in public?"
Albus got down from his ghost chair and sat on the floor across from Harry.
"Not all your friends."
Harry sighed deeply as he closed his eyes. "You're right. Luna, Neville, and George spoke in my defense. Everyone else however… I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't refused Ginny's advances after the battle which then got me into that intense argument with Ron and Hermione."
"I wish I could say that had nothing to do with it, Harry. But…"
"Yeah… so, are you ready to admit that you're just a figment of my imagination?"
Albus groaned. "I keep telling you, Harry, I am real. You're the Master of Death, and so are able to pull spirits from the afterlife."
Harry opened his mouth but was interrupted by Albus.
"And you haven't pulled Sirius, Remus, your parents, or anyone else, because you subconsciously know that it causes us spirits pain to stay on the mortal plane for too long. You're not willing to cause your loved ones any more pain."
Harry smirked. "And yet, here you are."
"Yes, because while you cared for me, you blame me for most of the pain in your life. Thusly, you don't really mind me being in pain."
"Well, it was your plan that got me here."
Albus rubbed the bridge of his nose. "No, my plan was for you to miraculously beat the odds and manage to have Tom strike you with the killing curse and therefore destroy the horcrux in your scar which would hopefully give you a loophole with death which let you stay alive. Then, somehow defeat him. Which you did. After that, I wanted you to find happiness. Your being imprisoned, or becoming the Master of Death, was not part of my plans. Indeed, were I alive, I would be doing everything in my power to free you."
Harry leaned his head back tiredly as he closed his eyes, letting Albus's voice and familiar words wash over him. Messing with the old man, spirit or hallucination, was what gave him the strength to deal with his daily dosage of dementor exposure.
"Uh huh. So, if I am the Master of Death, despite not having any wand, cloak, or stone in my possession, why hasn't Death sprung me from prison?"
Harry smiled as he heard the frustration entering Albus's voice.
"I… don't know. Perhaps you should try calling Death to appear before you, to explain itself."
Harry shrugged without opening his eyes. "Sure. It hasn't worked when I have tried every day for… however long I have been here, but I'll give it a shot. Death! I, Harry James Potter, am your master and I demand you present yourself before me!"
"Hello there!" spoke a cheery voice.
Harry's eyes snapped open as he turned his head to stare at the cell door. Standing there was a man who looked like Harry's identical twin. Well, he would be identical if Harry had never started wasting away in Azkaban. Also, the man's eyes were filled with what could only be described as joyful insanity.
Harry looked over at Albus's shocked face, and back to the man. The man took a step forward, and the bars of the door sprung away from him to exactly match his silhouette. When he stepped through the opening, the bars returned to their normal shape.
Harry cleared his throat nervously. "Are you… Death?"
The man's eyes opened wide as he stared at Harry. His eyes filling with delight (Harry wasn't sure, but he thought the man's pupils changed into happy faces for a moment), he finally responded.
"Yeeeesssss… Yes, I am!"
"Why do you look like me?"
Harry stared at Death incredulously, not sure if his sanity was finally snapping. After a long moment, he decided that if he was going crazy at least he was experiencing something new.
"Fair enough. Do I call you Death?"
Death grinned broadly. "No need to be so formal. Since we look similar, just call me Death Harry… no that is too long. Call me Dairy. And I'll call you Living Harry… Larry for short."
Harry chuckled. "Insanity doesn't seem so bad. I don't know why I tried to fight so long for my sanity."
Dairy smiled. "Sanity can be fun, because it gives you something to avoid."
Harry… Larry (might as well embrace it) felt his heart lightening, the ever-present aura of the Dementors seemed to have completely vanished.
"So, am I really your master?"
Dairy looked between Larry and Albus. Then slowly nodded. "Yes, you are. What can I do for you my mas…"
A dark presence, shrouded in a dark cloak of the deepest dark any mortal had ever witnessed (basically, it wasn't lacking on lightness), suddenly appeared in the cell and grabbed Dairy by the ear and pulled him through the cell doors. This time, the bars of the door did not move, and Dairy's body split into thin slices as it passed through the gaps, and then reconnected with no apparent harm to the man.
Larry and Albus watched as the dark presence (who Larry decided to think of as Cloaky) started to berate Dairy. Well, it looked like Dairy was being berated, but a blanket of silence smothered the pair. Cloaky was waving its skeletal hands aggressively at Dairy.
"Do you think Dairy is really Death?"
The two watched as Dairy created a bucket of fried chicken and offered it to Cloaky. Larry assumed it was a peace offering. Cloaky smacked it away towards the door. The bucket shrunk down to fit through the bars and then regrew to finally set down right in front of the pair of observers. Larry stared at the food, his mouth watering at the smell. He tentatively grabbed a drumstick and took a bite. He moaned in ecstasy.
Albus stared at the food with sad longing. His eyes widened in shock as the bucket split and a spectral twin now sat in front of him. He reached out his hand and was delighted to discover he could touch the food. Grabbing a wing, he lifted it up. Before taking a bite, he looked over at Dairy and saw him wink playfully. Shrugging, he finally took a bite and echoed Larry's moan of delight.
After he finished his bite, Albus responded to Larry's question.
"I don't know if he is really Death, but I don't think it matters."
Cloaky started to swing a scythe at Dairy, who kept bending backwards to avoid the swing. As the swings worked their way lower, Dairy's clothes transformed into a par of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Larry wasn't sure why he felt compelled to do it, but he started chanting "how low can you go?" under his breath.
"Why doesn't it matter?"
A pitcher of lemonade and a glass, along with a spectral duplicate, appeared in front of the two observers. Both poured a glass and took happy sips.
"Well… ouch, that looked bad."
Dairy was bisected at the waist when Cloaky decided to slice his scythe straight down at the man's bent over backwards body. Dairy's top floated towards his bottom half and he reconnected himself.
"He looks fine. So, why doesn't it matter?"
Cloaky appeared to start crying and Dairy gave the dark presence a hug. Cloaky tensed, but soon accepted the hug and embraced Dairy with great vigor.
"Because I think he just caused the real Death to have a nervous breakdown. If Dairy isn't Death, then he's powerful enough for it to not matter. And, it's best to humor people like that."
"Huh… makes sense."
Dairy stopped hugging Cloaky and walked back to the cell, walking through the cell door as if it were made of smoke.
"Hey, Master, what's up?"
Larry looked over at Cloaky who was sulking in the corner. "What was that argument about?"
"Huh? Oh right! This here is Death and…"
"I thought you said you were Death."
Dairy's eyes darted back and forth. In this case, they literally left his eye sockets and darted from one end of the room to other before settling back in their sockets. "Yes. I am… also Death?"
Larry suppressed a grin. "OK. So, what did… Cloaky say?"
Dairy smiled. "Oh, Cloaky! Because he is clammy like an oyster and oaky like a tree… I like it! Anyways, Cloaky was waiting for you to swear bloody vengeance upon those who betrayed you. He was then going to give you a power upgrade so you could go on a crusade of death and dismemberment, while reveling in your angst filled back story. Was that something you wanted to do? Because he's eager to get you started on slaughtering everyone who has ever wronged you."
Larry looked over at Cloaky, who was kicking a stone against the wall, like Dudley being told he wasn't going to be getting an extra slice of cake for dinner. He then looked back at Dairy.
"I'm… not really a 'slaughter everyone' kind of guy. I mean, I didn't even really want to kill Voldemort, I was just forced into it."
Dairy shrugged. "That's your call. Are you sure? Cloaky had this whole plan setup for you. First you would go on the increasingly bloody rampage. At the end, you would have an emotional collapse and realize that you had become a monster. Cloaky would then let you know that by embracing the powers of Death, you were now immortal and the new incarnation of Death. You would then travel to new dimensions and maintain the balance of life and death, good and evil, and see your powers continually increase without end. You sure you want to pass?"
Larry's eyes widened in shock. "WHAT!? That sounds… why would I ever… NO! I don't want that!"
Dairy smile as Cloaky cursed in an ancient tongue which caused the bars of the cell to rust into dust before he disappeared in a swirl of black smoke. Dairy ignored Cloaky's tantrum and spoke to Larry. "Well, then, what do you want?"
Larry sighed. "I just… just want to live a happy life away from this prison and the rest of the Wizarding World."
Dairy frowned. "That's it? I mean, I can do it, but it's just so…"
"Boring?" spoke Albus.
"See! All On The Bus agrees!"
Larry's brow furrowed in confusion. "Do you mean Albus?"
Larry rolled his eyes and looked at Albus. "And, what do you mean it's boring?"
Albus shrugged. "Well, it is, Harry. You should reach for the stars."
Larry huffed. "But I've only have ever just wanted to live a happy life with friends and family. What, should I ask for something impossible like bringing you back to life?"
Dairy piped up happily. "I can do that!"
Both Larry and Albus stared at the powerful doppelganger of Harry, as he bounced up and down excitedly.
Larry responded with hesitant hope. "Really? Like that ritual Voldemort did in fourth year?"
Dairy stared at Larry and a grin grew widely on his face. "Yes… yes, exactly like that! Now, let's see, how does it go again…"
Larry opened his mouth to respond but was shushed by a raised hand from Dairy.
"RIGHT! First, we need a cauldron…"
A human sized cauldron appeared in the cell, while the cell expanded to comfortably fit the addition.
"Now, bone of the… dinner? Yeah, sounds right. Bone of the dinner, unknowingly given."
A spectral bone of Albus's chicken wing flew into the cauldron.
"Next, flush… flesh… flish? Got it! Flashing the Dementors, willingly given."
Dairy looked at Albus expectedly. Albus stared at Dairy in aghast horror.
"Surely, you can't expect me to flash the Dementors. They don't even have a sex drive for them to care about something like that."
Dairy, smiled. "I understand, you want to be appreciated. Don't worry, every Dementor now has a sex drive. I've even made sure they are all attracted to you."
"That wasn't my complaint. Are sure this is the correct ritual?"
"Hey, who is the Easter Bunny here!?"
Albus pinched the bridge of his ghostly nose. "You mean, Death, don't you?"
"… yes? I work as the Easter Bunny part time. Yeah! That's a reasonable explanation!"
"Come on, Albus! Listen to the Easter Death Bunny and get on with the ritual" spoke a grinning Larry.
Albus sighed. "Fine"
Albus strode over to the doorway of the cell and lifted his spectral robes. A rousing chorus of catcalls sounded from the crowd of Dementors that had collected outside of the cell. Several cell keys were thrown at Albus's feet, along with a disturbing piece of clothing that Larry could have sworn was a pair of underwear.
"Great!" cheered Dairy. "Now… Larry, would you say you and Albus are friends or enemies?"
Larry paused. "Somewhere in between, I guess."
Dairy nodded and handed a beer to Larry. Larry looked at the ice-cold bottle and went to take a tentative sip before having it ripped out of his hands by Dairy.
"Bud of the frenemy, unwillingly given!" spoke Dairy as he smashed the bottle into the cauldron.
"The Lemon Lord shall rise again!"
With that the cauldron burst in a shower of lemon drops. From the center of the explosion of candies, a hand shot out and grabbed a lemon drop in midflight. An alive (and thankfully fully dressed) Albus Dumbledore popped the candy into his mouth and sighed in contentment.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Albus" spoke a smiling Larry.
"Thank you, Harry... I mean Larry. I'm happy to be back."
"I just wish I could bring back my parents… and Sirius… Remus, Tonks, and Fred."
Before Larry could feel a moment of regret, the cell suddenly was occupied by six new individuals.
With a shout of joy, Larry was suddenly in the middle of a group hug with his formerly dead loved ones. Albus smiled as he walked over to Dairy.
"Did you need to do the same ritual with all of them? Did they all have to flash a Dementor?"
Dairy looked over at Albus. "Hmmm? Oh, no. I just grabbed them from their point of death, sent their bodies forward in time to the Heat Death of the Universe, cloned them, pulled their souls from the present day, stuffed the souls into the clones, sent the clones back to their point of death, let them die, grabbed their corpses, sent them back to the Big Bang, swapped the corpses with the living bodies across the entire breadth of time, pushed the corpses from the Heat Death to their moment after they died, pulled the living bodies from the Big Bang to the present, and pulled the souls that were from the present but now in the past and put them into the bodies that were presently here. And done!"
Albus narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Couldn't you have just cloned the bodies at the moment of death and then brought the original bodies here before they ever died?"
Dairy frowned. "Your way sounds overly complex."
"Of course. So, only I was embarrassed to be resurrected?"
Dairy's eyes widened. "OH! I'm so sorry! Everyone!"
All the eyes from the group hug (where Larry had brought everyone up to date) turned to Dairy.
"Albus, pointed out that he was only embarrassed for his resurrection. I don't want him to feel mistreated, so can everyone please try to prank him at least once a year as son gets embarrassed for each of your resurrections?"
A chorus of agreements and vindictive glares toward Albus greeted Dairy's request.
"There! How's that, Albus?"
Albus groaned silently. "Wonderful."
Dairy clapped his hands in joy. "Well, I am the Arbor Day Tree, it's what I do, and I aim to please. Now, let me pop you all off to a nice magical island where Larry can have his boring happy life. I'll give him some basic god-level wandless powers. And then, I have a few extra chores to do and I'll head on off."
"What sort of cho…"
Before Albus could finish his sentence, all the occupants of the cell found themselves on a comfortable tropical island with premade buildings matching each person's dream house. Albus, feeling odd, looked down and saw he was now in his twenty-year-old body. Looking to his house, a replica of his childhood home, his breath caught as he saw two familiar people in equally young bodies. He knew the price for this would likely involve him being the victim of countless more embarrassing pranks, but it would be worth it.
"Hello Aberforth. Hello Ariana."
Hermione Granger ate her breakfast with a sense of regret. Today was the first anniversary of her being involved in sending Harry to Azkaban. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. He had been becoming increasingly antisocial over the years, and his refusal to connect with Ginny had clearly shown how disconnected he had become from people. A wizard with so much power and so little connection to society was a danger. Voldemort had proven that, and they needed to stop Harry before he could turn to the darkness in the same way.
Still, she regretted the necessity. So many of her classmates had changed their minds over the past year. Many of them claimed to have been swept up in the confusion and said in retrospect the idea of Harry going dark was stupid beyond belief, and that he had been willing to sacrifice everything for the society he supposedly hated. And that maybe him not wanting to date a specific girl was not proof of him going dark. Hermione had lost many of her friendships because she stood steadfast in her defense of preemptively imprisoning Harry.
With a sigh, she finished her breakfast and cleaned her plates. Pushing her regrets aside she opened the current day's edition of The Daily Prophet.
As she started to read, she frowned.
Why had someone printed the first chapter of "Hogwarts: A History" in place of the news?
"Probably George" she grumbled. The remaining Weasley twin had made it a habit of pranking Hermione and the rest of his family (though he no longer claimed them as family). Someday, he would realize that Harry's fate was for the best.
When Hermione arrived at work at the Ministry of Magic, she opened her mail and groaned in frustration.
Every piece of mail had been replaced with excerpts from "Hogwarts: A History". Every book in her office had also had their contents replaced with "Hogwarts: A History".
By the end of the day, after unsuccessfully trying to track down George, she finally brought in Kingsley Shacklebolt to help her. He claimed he could read everything just fine, but whenever he tried to read to her, he would just repeatedly say "Have Ron read to you".
By the end of the week, she had finally concluded that the only way she would ever be able to "read" again was by having Ron Weasley (and only Ron) read out loud. This included any notes she personally wrote. Without Ron, everything was "Hogwarts: A History". Given Ron's reading speed, normal procrastination tendencies, and difficulty with pronouncing long legal words, this did not result in a happy Hermione.
Ronald Weasley sat down to breakfast (closer to lunch, considering he liked to sleep in most days) without a single thought on Harry Potter. He was also blissfully unaware that he would spend the rest of his days primarily reading long boring texts to Hermione.
He looked down at his plate loaded with bacon, eggs, sausage, and buttered toast. He grabbed a slice of bacon and brought it up to his mouth.
Out of nowhere, a three-inch-tall black dog came into existence on the table. It leaped up and tore the slice of bacon from Ron's fingers and disappeared.
"Huh?" Ron asked the universe in confusion. Shrugging, he grabbed another piece of bacon.
A three-inch-tall grey werewolf appeared on the table, leapt up, and grabbed the bacon before disappearing.
The next piece of bacon was snatched by a three-inch-tall brown stag.
The animals rotated through stealing Ron's bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, and every other favorite food Ron scrounged up.
He found some dry Corned Beef Sandwiches his mother had dropped off when she visited the previous day. He hated Corned Beef Sandwiches! The three animals let him eat the hated food.
It would take Ron several months before he realized he was only allowed to eat foods he didn't like. When he started to develop a taste for a previously hated food, the animals would appear again to start stealing said food.
This did not result in a happy Ron.
Ginny Weasley smiled viciously as she remembered that today was the first anniversary of sending Harry to Azkaban. He deserved it for turning her down.
As she began Quidditch practice (as she was a professional Chaser), she found the Quaffle kept slipping through her fingers. She would be right on the verge of making the most extraordinary catches but would just manage to mess it up.
Once it became clear that she could no longer effectively play, the owner (who had been a happy supporter of Harry's imprisonment) tried to fire Ginny. Only to discover that the employment contract had somehow been accidentally written as an unbreakable lifetime contract where Ginny could not quit, nor could she be fired.
Ginny eventually became known as Fumbles Weasley and was the only reason why the Chudley Cannons had one guaranteed win every season whenever they went up against the Hollyhead Harpies. For some reason, Ron always forgot to bet on the Cannons for those specific games.
This did not result in a happy Ginny.
As the children of the Wizarding World grew up, they would all find themselves staying magically attentive in their history class when reading about the fate of Harry Potter. No matter how much the adults tried to modify the history books, they always reverted to an accurate depiction of reality. The children found themselves highly unimpressed by their parents' actions.
This did not result in a happy adult population (though did eventually lead to a happy Wizarding World as the children became old enough to take over).
George Weasley knew that today was the anniversary of his friend's imprisonment. Harry's last words to George had been for him to embrace the joy of life. As such, George had spent the past year living up to what he felt both Fred and Harry would want. He pranked Harry's betrayers and pursued a joyful life.
Today, he was taking that to the next level.
He had made the perfect breakfast for his girlfriend, Angelina Johnson. She had been in the hospital while Harry was being betrayed and had been unable to defend her former quidditch teammate. Knowing that she had supported Harry had let George pursue his feelings for the woman.
As Angelina came down to see the table covered in nothing but pastries and flowers, she looked at George with a confused smile.
"What's all this? A bit… sugary for breakfast, isn't it?"
George felt his throat go dry, suddenly doubting his approach. Still, he was committed. He pulled out a small box from his pocket and got down on one knee. Angelina's eyes widened in shock and anticipation.
"I could fill this house with nothing but sugar, and it still wouldn't be nearly as sweet as you. Angelina Jennifer Johnson, the past year with you has been the happiest of my life. I never expected, after Fred and Harry, I would find myself so quickly finding joy in this world. You are everything I want in this world. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel as happy as you make me feel every day. So…"
George opened the box and revealed a ring, making Angelina gasp.
George suddenly found himself kneeling on the beach of a tropical island.
"I don't know Georgie, this seems a bit sudden. I'm not sure I'm ready for such a big commitment."
George looked up into the smiling face of his now living brother.
After having Harry transport Angelina to the island (along with Neville and Luna), a quick explanation, and George properly proposing to Angelina and receiving a yes, this resulted in a very happy George.
With all his chores completed, Dairy Potter left the current reality with a smile.
In Azkaban, the Dementors continued to pine for their lost love and their dreams were filled with the pleasant memory of the spindly unclothed legs of the ghost of Albus Dumbledore. That memory kept them sated for the rest of time.