A conversation between old friends.
Many years later, after trials and tribulation and so very much chaos, Harry encountered Hermione Granger – no, Weasley – once again.
He'd had to perform so many tricks and chores for the cranky old man known as Death, but he'd finally convinced the entity to give him his body back. It made his life more interesting, that was for sure, and it was about to pay off once again.
It was maybe six months after Ron's deal had expired.
Crowley had had some business to attend to in England, and Harry had come along for the ride, exploring the London he once knew in his reasonably new body.
She was sitting on a park bench, staring blankly at a children's playground. The black marks beneath her eyes stood out in sharp contrast to her pale skin. For a moment, Harry watched her from out of sight. Was one of those kids hers? Or was she feeling oddly regretful. Hermione Granger had never been one to mope, but maybe things were different now.
Feeling just a little bit spiteful, Harry dropped down onto the bench beside her.
Hermione was 34, maybe 35, if he remembered correctly. It was odd, seeing her next to his 23 year old body. Stranger still was that she didn't seem at all shocked to see him when she finally turned around.
"I thought Ron was lying," she began without prompting, without greeting. "He left me a letter, did you know? Saying he'd seen you. That maybe he'd made a mistake somewhere along the line. That you were terrifying. I found it after he died, which is probably what he intended. It just sounded so stupid. But deep down I knew it was the truth."
Harry frowned. He'd sort of been hoping for a more dramatic reaction. Hermione had always been the calm sort though, when she wasn't studying for something.
"I'm surprised he even had the guts to write that letter," he remarked. "He was trembling like a leaf in the wind when Crowley and I paid him a visit." He pulled on the edge of his jacket, suddenly regretting sitting down. "How did you know it was true?"
There was an ancient look in Hermione's eyes. One that spoke of having seen too many things.
"I remember dying, and being dead," she explained flatly. "At first I just thought they were nightmares. After all, I was fine, wasn't I? But you know Ron, he's never been very good at hiding things, or keeping secrets. I found the research he'd been doing, the obituary that had been written and never printed. It didn't take a genius to put two and two together."
"But you are a genius," Harry murmured, feeling strangely complementary.
"Yes." She gave him a hard stare. "I suppose I am. I could never figure out what made me more important than you, or what had broken inside of him for Ron to even consider what could pretty much be classified as necromancy. Even as a non-religious muggle-born, I knew more about demon lore than Ron did – at least in the beginning. I was actually a little bit proud of him for putting so much effort into research for once. If only it hadn't been for this."
Harry had to turn away from her gaze. There was something unsettling about it. Not quite pity, not quite judgement, but at the same time a mixture of both.
"What was death like?" Harry asked quietly.
"I think it was a lot like living. I was in Heaven, that I'm certain of. A lot of it's pretty hazy now. Chances are I'm not supposed to remember it at all. But that's not where you ended up, is it Harry?"
He whistled softly, suddenly feeling awfully vulnerable. His favourite hell hound, Loki – Gabriel had given him grief for the decision for a long time, but Harry thought he was sort of flattered all the same – nuzzled up against the palm of his hand, which he had hung off the edge of the bench. Harry buried his fingers in Loki's fur.
"No. I was in Hell. And do you know the first thing I heard when I got there?"
Hermione shook her head.
"'Oh look, Harry Potter, come to rescue me!'" Harry adopted a high-pitched voice, frowning heavily. "Dead, and still the rescuer. I hated that. Hated it more than being in Hell. I didn't want to rescue anyone anymore. Being dead meant I could start living for myself, instead of for other people."
Out of the blue, Hermione started laughing. Loki barked in agitation and Harry's jaw dropped.
"Have you gone completely mental?!" He demanded, wondering if now was a good time to leave, before they drew too much attention.
"I'm sorry," she giggled, looking a mess with bright eyes and frizzy hair. "I just- Seeing you, I just realised something. Voldemort was always so afraid of death, and here we are, the two of us, and we've both cheated death in our own way. We accomplished what Voldemort was trying to do without even trying!"
Harry stared at her in wonder. Crazy or not, she actually had a point. Unable to help himself, he started laughing too. It was wonderful, like a final piece of revenge!
"I wonder what happened to him," Hermione mused once they settled down.
Harry stared up at the clouds, a wicked grin on his face.
"Oh, I'm sure Death whipped up something special for him."
They stayed in the park until evening began to fall, and Crowley came looking for him. He recognised her from her resurrection, but couldn't fathom what Harry would want with her after all that time.
Hermione proceeded to thank Crowley for bringing her back, and then slapped him as hard as she could.
Crowley looked so shell-shocked that Harry felt his raucous laughter at his lover's expense was totally justified, even when Crowley's glare screamed bloody murder.
A/N: Ok, I've decided to mark this series as complete as of today (Feb 2017) because, although I had a couple of vague thoughts for further snippets, I really don't have the time or capacity to try and work on this amongst all the other stories I have going on. Sorry about that and thanks for reading.