Reptilia28's challenge is an older one and already has quite a few stories written for it, but it interested me when I found it in another fic, so I'm giving it a go! I won't list the requirements here, as that would be rather boring, but I will follow them all, promise.
With the movement of a mouth and one flash of green light, Harry was dead. The ghosts were right. It didn't hurt at all.
But where was everyone? Harry found himself completely alone, groggy and confused. Through the fog, Harry heard a voice groan in exasperation.
"Fuck, not again."
Harry felt a sharp pain in his leg, enough to jog him awake. Where he found himself was nothing like how he had anticipated what the afterlife would be, if there was one.
He was sitting in a beige colored room that most resembled the waiting room at a muggle hospital. The walls and ceiling were beige, the floor thinly carpeted in something brown with a few dark stains, the chairs were deeply worn and very uncomfortable. A most irritated-looking office man stood in front of him with arms crossed, tapping his foot and frowning.
The man was fat and balding. There was a mustard stain on his white shirt, to the left of his brown tie. He was speaking in a most irritated fashion.
"Really? I leave for an hour, one hour, to see the end of the Purgatory-Seventh Circle match, and you've gone and died again. I'm not doing this anymore, I swear."
Harry pushed his eyebrows together in confusion and looked around. "I-I'm sorry." He stuttered, "Where is this? I can't remember - I mean, I was sure that I'd..."
"Died?" The man spat, "Well, you have. You're in error correction, for the fifth time, I might add. Do you know what this means to my record? Do you?"
Before Harry could say that he didn't, in fact, know anything about what 'this' would do to the man's record, or exactly what his record was of, he'd been grabbed firmly by the shoulder and pulled up out of his seat. In all his confusion, he was only able to make protesting noises as the man dragged him out of the waiting room through a door Harry was sure was not there a minute ago.
"Sit down." Said the man, indicating a chair that seemed to have mysteriously appeared, along with the rest of the very muggle office Harry suddenly found himself in. Not knowing what else to do, Harry sat. This chair was also very uncomfortable.
"If I may, can I ask what's going on here? Is this heaven?" Harry asked, almost hoping the answer was no. He couldn't imagine an eternity in this place.
"No," Said the man in the tone of voice most would say 'duh', "Have you been judged yet? You think you can go straight to heaven without processing? You think it's all just magic, don't you? You wizard types, I swear."
Harry let out a silent sigh of relief, "Okay. Okay then, so where is this?"
"Were you not listening to me all? I said earlier, you're in error correction. It's not my job to interact with the public, I just file papers. But every so often, when one of my watches happens to off themselves early, well it's my fault, for some reason. I shouldn't be expected to stare at you every moment of every day. I mean, why should I be blamed for some mortal's fuck-up? You know what I'm saying?" The man seemed to be asking Harry genuinely. Harry was flustered enough to nod.
The man went on, "So they tell me if you die one more time, that's it. I'm canned. You want me to lose my job, kid?"
Harry shook his head no.
"Nobody wants that," The man ranted, "So this time, you're doing it right. You got me? Capishe? You kill Voldemort, marry your soul mate, and live to a ripe old age of a hundred and forty-two. Of course, letting you keep your memories of this place ain't exactly within the rules. But don't you worry, I've got a loophole. Sign here."
From nowhere (Harry watched carefully this time), the man pulled a hefty sheaf of papers and a pen.
"Last page." Said the man as Harry took them.
Harry found the lettering too small to read. "What does it say?" He asked.
"It says, you are formally allowed to retain memories of what just happened and what I'm about to tell you. That's what it says, look it over if you want while I talk."
The man settled back into his chair, "Now listen carefully. You're confused. I get that, all you mortals are, so I'm going to spell it out real slow. Today is not the first time my old friend Dumbles has let you get yourself killed. It happened in your first year, in that magic room with the mirror, then you got eaten by that giant snake, yada yada, you need to be more careful. Second thing, you need to marry your soul mate, some Granger girl..." The man leafed through a series of papers, which once again, seemed to come from nowhere, then to nowhere vanish when he was done, "Ah, here. Hermione. You know a Hermione?"
Harry was struck, "Um, yes. My best friend Hermione, I've known her since first year. Is she -"
The man chuckled, "Heh, guess I should be a little more aware of my watches' lives, shouldn't I? Ah, whatever. So you take this Hermione girl, and you fall in love. Shouldn't be difficult. You came close a lot of times, just put some effort in. You're soul mates, and that means you belong together. And no skipping out, okay? You need her, love being the power the dark lord knows not. Missing Hermione is why you died this last time. Your soul mate can purify the Voldemort right out of you. Okay, fourth. Third I mean. Whatever. Dumbles, savoir of the light and all that. You trust him?"
Harry thought for a moment, then shook his head.
The man shrugged. "Guess you can't after all that, can ya? Right, here's the thing. He's a Legillimens. That means he reads minds. That means bad, because, well, if it ever gets out that I let some kid keep his memories after a screw-up, well, I'd be a little worse than fired. I did a little looking up, and I've got a plan. Friend of mine spoke with your parents, not that they'd remember. He found out they left you something special. The special Potter Family ring. It's protective, like most family rings. This one in particular protects you from invasions of the mind. Why you never got it, I don't know. See Gringotts about that, they might be able to help."
"My parents?" Harry asked, "Can I see them?"
The man ignored him, "I'm going to send you back to your Hogwarts letter, you got that? Now here's what you want to do: keep it from the Dursleys and apparate to Gringotts fast as you can."
"But I can't -" Harry started.
"That should give you time to get ahold of the ring, meet the Granger girl, and start planning. I'm not going to do everything for you. That's not my job. You ready to go? Sign that document already."
Harry looked down at the paper and pen in his hands. He was confused beyond belief, but figured he had nothing else to do. He signed and the contract dissappeared in his hands.
"Finally," The man said, "We're done here. Now, if I see you again before you're one hundred and forty-two, I'm going to be real pissed, you hear?"
Even as the man was still speaking, Harry saw the world dissappearing around him.
"Wait!" He cried, "Isn't there more you can -"
Harry found himself on brown carpet, in front of a wooden door.
"Tell me?" He couldn't help finishing.
He looked around. Hogwarts letter on the ground, with the rest of the post. He could smell breakfast. Was that not an elaborated hallucination? He'd really gone back in time?
"What's taking you, boy?" Vernon Dursley's voice cried out.
It would appear the answer was yes. Harry quickly tucked the letter into his pocket and returned with the rest of the post.
It would appear he had a lot of life left to live.