Challenge issued by Reptilia28—
A funny little challenge I just came up with. It's a comical twist on the time-travel category.
• Harry is killed at 17 during a fight with Voldemort. He's sent to his Death's office (explained later) and finds out that this isn't the first time that this has happened.
• Harry's Death (who can have a human name) is mad at his arrival. Apparently, people dying before their time is a black mark on the various Deaths' records, and Harry is getting perilously close to getting this particular one fired.
• When Harry asks what was supposed to have happened, Death goes off on a rant, saying how he was supposed to have killed Voldemort, found his soulmate ("Some Granger girl...") and lived to be a centennial age. But since Harry keeps getting into life-threatening situations for one reason or another, he keeps dying before that happens. Harry is surprised about the "soulmate" part.
• Death gives Harry a paper to sign that allows him to retain his memories (the previous times, he wasn't given this option for some reason). Harry is deposited to a previous time of the writer's choosing.
• Eventually, Harry gets it right. He kills Voldemort, gets the girl, and lives to a ripe old age of whatever. And Death doesn't get fired.
• Harry had to have died at least three times before this one.
• The memory-keeping contract must be included.
• Death must refer to Hermione as "some Granger girl" when Harry's soulmate turns up in his rant.
• Obviously, must be H/Hr.
• Have fun.
• Dumbledore's manipulations can be a factor in Harry's premature demises.
Sixth Time Dead
Date: 2nd May 1998 (or was it?)
Someplace eternal and unearthly
In a small office with white-painted walls, Harry Potter was sitting on a grey-painted metal chair in front of a grey-painted metal desk. On the desk were six piles of manila folders, each pile being three feet tall.
Behind the desk sat Harry's personal Grim Reaper, a right git. The git's name was Gerhardus, and he was wearing quite old-fashioned clothing—centuries old. At the moment, Gerhardus was acting angry at Harry. Harry was feeling just as angry at Gerhardus.
To Harry's left, on the wall hung a calendar—for April, 1823. Only through 11th April were day-squares crossed out on the calendar page.
Behind Gerhardus, the wall had two doors. The door on the right was covered with pearlescent paint. The door on the left was painted red; round the red door, the doorjamb and the floor all were dirtied with black soot.
"So, Gerhardus, let me get this straight," Harry growled. "I'm dead. In fact, I've died five times before today—starting with Ripper ripping my throat out. The next time I died, I snapped my neck when I fell off my broom during a Quidditch game. Killed in the graveyard once. Followed Sirius into the Veil once. Once I got Kissed on the Hogwarts Express, then my mindless body died of heart failure. Today I let Voldemort AK me so that my friends would be safe, and now you are acting like Snape after a Potions accident. Whatever you think your nasty problem is at the moment, your problem can't be as bad as mine—I'm dead."
Gerhardus snapped, "This is your sixth death. The Big Boss now will be reviewing my work. I might be demoted, all because of you."
"Sod that!" Harry yelled. "You're like Ron, you're like Draco—blaming everybody but yourself for your mistakes. You tell me that I've sat in this chair five times before, that I've been sent back to relive my life five times before, but I don't remember any of this! How do you expect me to fix my mistakes when I don't remember my mistakes? What's the use of giving me advice when, the moment I leave here, I forget the advice?"
Gerhardus glared at Harry, then pulled down the top folder from one of the piles. Gerhardus said, "Despite my better judgement, I shall give you one more chance."
From the folder, Gerhardus pulled out a preprinted contract and began filling in its blanks. Halfway down the second page, Gerhardus crossed out a paragraph and wrote "Memory fully retained" in the margin.
Once Gerhardus had filled out the contract, he tossed it at Harry. Gerhardus snapped, "I'm sending you back one more time, but this time with your memories intact. The horcrux shall be gone from your scar. Now sign this and get going, because I have other souls I must process today."
Harry did not reach for the contract. Instead, he said, "Remind me: What do I win if I go back and I fulfill my destiny?"
Gerhardus huffed, then replied, "You kill Voldemort, you hook up with your soulmate, who is some Granger girl with a weird first name, and you live with her till you're 184 years old. Fame and riches might be included, but they're not guaranteed."
"And if I go back but I mess up again? If I get killed as a Hogwarts student?"
Gerhardus glared at Harry. "In that case, I as your Grim Reaper can recommend to higher-ups that your soul be Annihilated. So don't get killed again, you hear me? Now sign that and get out of my office—I'm backlogged even more now than when you walked in."
Harry said sweetly, "So what you're saying is, right now I'm taking up your valuable time?"
Harry said sweetly, "Let me help you with your backlog problem." Then—r-r-i-p—Harry tore the contract in half. Harry stared-down Gerhardus and said, "Rather than suffer through Snape's bullying, Ron's envy and Dumbledore's manipulations once more, I think I'd rather walk through yonder pearly door and be reunited with my family and friends."
"No!" yelled Gerhardus. "You must go back! You're the Chosen One of prophecy, the only one who can stop Voldemort!"
"Hm," Harry said as he pretended to stroke his chin, "getting hugs from Mum, ten minutes from now, or risking my soul being Annihilated forever. Oh my, what should I do?"
Gerhardus gulped. Then his face turned sly. "I know someone who can persuade you."
Gerhardus dug about in a desk drawer and pulled out a sheet of gold foil and a silver quill. Gerhardus's writing left silver ink behind, as he wrote "Attention Department 2: request Albus P Dumbledore." In tiny silver letters that Harry was almost unable to read, Gerhardus added, "Use the sideways trick." Gerhardus waved a hand over the silver ink, then the ink disappeared, leaving the gold foil unmarked again.
Harry and Gerhardus waited several minutes—Gerhardus did not explain why.
Then Harry heard a thump noise, which came from either the red door or the pearly door. Gerhardus immediately said, "Ignore the noise. It's not important."
But Harry did not ignore the noise. Harry was looking at both doors when Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the red door, hurriedly shut the red door, then stepped sideways so that he was standing in front of the closed pearly door.
"Harry my boy!" smiling Dumbledore called as he walked towards Harry.
Harry made a show of sniffing deeply. "They must burn lots of matches in Heaven, headmaster. You reek of burnt sulphur. Either that, or you were sent to Hell but you're trying to mislead me, hm?"
Dumbledore asked Gerhardus lowly, "Why have I been called up here?"
Gerhardus replied lowly, "I need for Potter here to go back in time and this time fulfill his destiny. This is his sixth screw-up. If he doesn't fulfill his destiny, I'll be demoted to British Isles Grim Reaper for Roadkill. But instead of going back to Earth and back in time, Potter wants to claim his Reward. The boy is selfish, I swear."
Dumbledore looked at Harry, his eyes twinkling. "Harry my boy, I'm so disappointed in you."
"Go to Hell," Harry replied.
"Harry, that was rude."
"I meant it literally—go back to Hell."
Then Harry stood up, walked around Dumbledore and walked past Gerhardus's desk. Harry walked up to the pearly door and put his hand on the handle, but did not open the door. Harry said, "Sod your head-games, both of you. Gerhardus, either Mr Twinkle-Eyes walks back through the red door that he just came from, or I walk through this pretty door right now."
Gerhardus's face went tomato-red then, perhaps because Harry was no longer acting like how a "proper" soul was supposed to act in front of that soul's Grim Reaper.
Seeing Gerhardus's anger, Harry added, "I truly don't care if you're sent to seize the souls of squashed squirrels for the next ten thousand years. Now choose."
Gerhardus quickly dismissed Dumbledore—who could not hide the fear on his face when Gerhardus pointed to the red door.
When Dumbledore, with clear reluctance, put his hand on the handle of the red door, he and Harry were only a few feet apart. Harry said to him, "According to Gerhardus, my destiny is meant to be killing Voldemort, marrying Hermione and living to 184 years old. That's impossible to do if the supposed only way to kill Voldemort is to let him AK me, so that the horcrux in my scar is killed. You sodding piece of shit, I sacrificed my life needlessly because of your lie!"
"Harry my boy—"
"GO TO HELL!"
When Dumbledore had returned to his next great barbecued adventure, Gerhardus looked at Harry and sighed. "Tell me what you want."
Harry said, "I want more than just keeping my memories, and the horcrux gone from my scar."
Gerhardus said, "I'm listening."
Harry said, "Whilst they were alive, Dumbledore and Snape routinely read the minds of students—do you see what a disaster it would be if the Master Manipulator and the Dark Lord knew the future?"
Gerhardus gasped; his face looked horrified.
Harry said, "My first demand, and this is nonnegotiable: I want some kind of bulletproof protection against mind-magics. Legilimency, Imperius, mind-affecting potions, et cetera—they all fail, all the time, when someone tries them on me. Only the Sorting Hat may come in."
Gerhardus nodded. "This one I can agree to."
Harry said, "I'm serious about no mind-affecting potions affecting my mind. As I'm sitting here, I'm realising, 'I was never truly in love with Ginny Weasley. How could I have thought so? She's a stalker.' And whilst I'm talking to you, I'm also wondering, 'Why did I always do what Ron wanted, whenever Ron wanted to do it? When Ron snogged Lavender and Hermione was so upset, why did I not even try to tell Hermione how I felt?' I'm angry right now, realising that both Ginny and Ron potioned me whilst I trusted them."
Gerhardus said, "Agreed. We'll 'bulletproof' your mind when you go back. Anything else?"
Harry nodded. "On the first page of that contract I tore up, it said something like, 'You can't tell anyone that you're from the future or why you're here.' I want Hermione Granger to be the one person in the past whom I'm allowed to tell, and I want her to have the same no-mind-magics protection that you give me. Bloody hell, that wanker Ron potioned Hermione beginning in sixth year, and I won't allow her to be mind-raped during my second run-through!"
Gerhardus said, "But every person you tell..." His voice trailed off, then he was silent for a long time. At last he said, "Agreed." He sounded hesitant.
Harry said, "Before I leave here, I need to know things—more things than I know now. Because of Dumbledore, I was starved for years, I was beaten way too many times and I was ignorant. How many mistakes did I make, how many poor choices did I make, because information that I should have been told beforehand, I didn't know? Also, Dumbledore has lied to me at least once—how many lies has he told me that I still believe?"
Gerhardus grunted in reply.
Harry continued, "After all, when I time-travel to the past, my remembering stuff from now does me no good if I'm still ignorant and I'm still believing lies."
"True," Gerhardus said, in a Where are you going with this? tone of voice.
Harry added, "In addition: Making important events turn out right, this takes planning, but I'm bugger-all at planning. Usually I ad-lib on the spot. All of these things I've told you, lead up to my next demand."
"Go on," Gerhardus said cautiously.
"And don't tell me it can't be done; you just proved otherwise. Before I go back in time and try again to save Wizarding Britain from Mr Noseless, I want advice from some experts."
Harry chin-pointed at the pearlescent-painted door. "From some dead experts."