Death's Knight: Revisited
A/N: The following AT story is best understood if you are familiar with the mainstream comics of the DC Universe. If you aren't a fan of DC, or dislike comics, this probably isn't the story for you. Ideas being used come from Green Lantern, Sandman, World's Finest (The New 52 Universe, and the mind of Heather Sinclair. This universe differs greatly from the one you may be used to, be it the comics, movies or animated features. This story begins a year after the inception of the New 52, and merges with the post Voldemort world of Harry Potter.
This tale is inspired by Heather Sinclair's wonderful Death's Knight story, and is being retold with her permission
Chapter 1 –
I pushed the broom into a steep dive, exulting in the thrill of flight, as I had every time I'd mounted a broom since the first time when I was all of eleven.
Truly, the only time I was truly at peace is when I was airborne. In the weeks since the defeat of Voldemort, the peace of flight was the only thing that had kept me sane. Which was why I had snuck out of the Burrow for a bit of peace and quiet. I loved the Weasleys, I truly did, but sometimes the nonstop noise of a house that 8 people are calling home could get to be a bit much for someone raised in a cupboard.
I pulled out of the dive, going horizontal a few inches above the meadow, some of the taller grasses tickled my knuckles as I planned my next move. Pulling up suddenly, I traded speed for altitude.
Which is why the black beam of death vaporized the plants of the meadow on my former path, rather than my head.
Of course, this wasn't the first time I had been attacked since I had put Riddle down. Which explains why my first reaction was to draw my wand. The Holly and Phoenix feather wand was warm in my hand, welcoming my magic in that special way one's first wand always does. I sent a stunner blindly the way the beam of black magic had come, almost as a reflex.
I looked up and watched as my stunning spell was absorbed by my opponent's shield. My jaw clinched when I saw who I was fighting.
Contrary to popular belief, I'm not quite as dim as some people have suggested. I do pay attention to the world around me, and I was utterly aware of the emergence of the latest crop of 'heroes' around the world over the previous year.
Beings of Power unknown since the gods and demigods of old trod this old Earth. People capable of laying waste to armies, and if the rumors were true, capable of using the explosion of a nuclear bomb as their own personal tanning bed. As a group they were kind of hard to miss.
The one who had just tried to kill me was the strongest of them all. I had no idea why he had changed his color scheme, ditching the red and blue of his famous costume for black and silver, but the big 'S' Shield was still on his chest. Hanging in the air with no apparent effort, the man extended his right arm and a new black beam of destruction leaped at me almost too fast for me to follow.
Fortunately, my reflexes remained as quick as ever, I slid to the left, causing the black beam to miss me by scant inches. Despite the miss, I felt the power behind the beam. It's passing inspired feelings of despair, pain, and fear.
If I hadn't been all too familiar with the effects of Dementors, I might have curled up and died right then and there. As it was, I was wondering since when Superman used a ring, like that Green Ring guy.
"Is that all you've got, Little Wizard?" The hovering Superman asked, his voice swimming in sarcasm. I got a better look at him while he was snarking at me. He appeared to be quite a bit older than the photos I'd seen previously had suggested, and on top of the change to his costume's color scheme, for some reason his famous cape was shredded tatters. "I have no idea why Lord Nekron has selected you and your kind to join our ranks, what I've seen so far hasn't impressed."
"Yeah?" I asked quietly, more for myself than him, "How about this?" I cast my strongest blasting curse, which his shield absorbed without a sound.
That was when Superman started laughing at me. Before I could react, his eyes glowed red and a pair of beams of red light converged on my wand.
And my right hand. I stared in disbelief as both my wand and my hand turned to ash.
An intelligent man would have given in to fear then. But then, no one has ever accused me of being all that intelligent. No, the emotion that consumed me in that moment of danger and need wasn't fear. It was anger.
With a thought the ring on my left hand caused the Elder Wand appear in my left hand and Death's Cloak to wrap my body, allowing me to vanish from sight. I disapparated to the ground, leaving the broom to fall where it may. If I was going to fight a Demi-God, I was going to do it with both my feet firmly on the ground, and I was going to cheat for all I was worth. After all, combining the Hallows had supposedly made me the 'Master' of Death. Unfortunately, the only thing I'd noticed so far was that I could use any of the Hallows to summon any or all of the others.
It turns out even Supermen can be blindsided by an attack coming from someone they cannot see. In his searching for me, he was revolving in place, those creepy red eyes searching for any movement. That was why my Bombarda Maxima hit him in the back of the head. The thunderous explosion knocked the decidedly unheroic hero from the sky, resulting in what was, for me anyway, a most satisfying face plant into the mud. I followed the Bombarda with a Diffindo or two, a Duro, a Furnunculus, and finally a pair of Sectumsempras.
I know, I know, the spells were in alphabetical order. Sue me, I was freaking out a little from losing my right hand.
I was completely unprepared for Superman to rise from the mud, utterly unharmed, and to turn toward me.
"Perhaps you are a challenge," he admitted generously as he began to move directly toward me. "Your invisibility is excellent, but I can still hear your heart beating. Let me take care of that for you."
I tried to disapparate again, but found that I couldn't. Something was holding me in place. I looked down to find my feet mired in a mass of black… something. Superman was less than a yard from me by now, his hands reaching for my invisible throat. I had no other choice. This Superman was insanely strong and durable, all of my magic had failed against him, and he clearly intended to kill me. I raised the Death Stick and cast.
"Avada Kedavra!" It wasn't the first of the unforgivables I had cast in my life, but it was certainly the worst. True to its reputation the sickly green of the Death Spell passed through the shield surrounding Superman as if it was not even there. It then hit the unheroic hero in the chest.
And he smiled as his hands closed around my throat.
Evidently, he intended to take his time. I mean, he could have snapped my head off my shoulders with his pinky fingers, instead he slowly squeezed, cutting off my air, then letting up to let me gasp, before starting the pressure again.
My feet were still restrained, my right hand was gone, I still held the Elder Wand in my left, but everything I had tried had been ineffectual, or worse.
As I felt his grip loosen to allow me a partial breath before cutting off my air supply again, I knew I had to cast… something. To this day I have no idea why I chose the spell I did. Perhaps it was luck, perhaps it was just that the spell had saved me before.
Perhaps reality had been shaped over several lifetimes to ensure that I would use the spell I chose in my desperation.
As the homicidal Superman allowed me to breathe once more, I pressed the tip of the Elder Wand against his chest and whispered; "Expecto Patronum!"
Prongs leapt from my wand into Superman's body, resulting in the invulnerable man being thrown bodily from me. Landing on the ground with a hollow thump, the hero began to thrash about screaming in agony.
The black substance that had been anchoring me to the ground vanished as I sucked in as much sweet air as I could. I took a few stumbling steps forward toward the thrashing man and tried to understand what I was seeing.
The patronis, normally useless against anything other than a dementor, was inside his body, and if the bulges that formed, disappeared, and reformed, where any indication, was fighting to get out. The Superhuman was clearly in agony, and was decomposing before my eyes.
None of this made the slightest bit of sense.
Superman screamed yet again, and then slumped nerveless giving every indication of being unconscious or dead. Given my state, I think I could be forgiven for hoping for the latter. Prongs erupted from the unmoving man's chest and shook itself to remove the gore. My patronis then circled the fallen hero twice before dispelling.
"Oh," a new voice said, breaking through my pain to catch my attention, "well done, Harry. I knew you could do it."
I spun to face the speaker, Elder Wand at the ready, and found myself staring into the eyes of the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Her pale skin, which had obviously never seen the sun, was set off by her black clothing, and dark hair. Her lips were full, painted black in the classic Goth style and only inches from mine. At the outside corner of her right eye, she wore a tattoo of the Eye of Horus. A black choker encircled her throat, and from that bit of ribbon hung a silver Ankh.
For the first time in my life, I was in love. All the girls before had been nothing more than infatuations compared to what I was feeling right then. What I wanted right then. What I needed right then.
"Okay," she laughed. "That's enough of that."
I blinked and suddenly she was… no longer 'all that'. Oh, she was cute and all, but I no longer wanted to throw myself at her feet and do anything to make her happy.
And I realized that I was still wearing Death's Cloak, and this girl was staring right at me. Where Superman found me by listening, Moody and Dumbledore could see through it by magically enhanced devices, she was looking right at me, unaided.
"Introductions are in order, I think," she laughed, showing cute little dimples. "You are Harry James Potter, and I am Death. That's my cloak, wand and stone you're using there Harry."
"Death," I said, sending the cloak and wand to return to storage.
"Yes," she confirmed.
"Death as in the end of life?" I asked.
"Also the beginning, but that's not really the point," she sighed.
For some reason, I believed her. "You're not what I expected," I admitted. "So, Superman did kill me then? You're here for the both of us?"
"Let me guess, you think you expected a cloaked skeleton with a scythe?" she giggled. "That's just your cultural expectation, Harry. Those close to death see me as what they most want me to be." She looked down at her body and giggled again. "Most men see me like this, or something close to this. And no, I'm not here for either of you. You're still alive, you see, and poor Kal-L died years ago. He and I have already met."
My missing hand was really starting to bother me, so I kept the conversation going as a distraction. "Kal-L? And he was dead? He was doing an impressive job of killing me for a dead man."
"You didn't think his real name was Superman, did you?" the girl shook her head. "He was the last survivor of a rather impressive race from a distant planet in another dimension, until he died and ended that entire line. His reanimation is what I want to talk to you about Harry."
"Superman is an alien?" I choked out. I'm not sure why I was so surprised, I mean with everything he could do, but the ring guy and the one who ran fast and the buxom woman in the metal swimsuit were all human… or at least I thought they were. What were the odds of an alien world producing beings who looked so much like people?
"Kryptonian," Death nodded, gesturing toward the remains of my attacker, "He is not the Superman you know. That particular alien is still in Metropolis fighting dead people. And he isn't doing nearly as well as you did either."
She gestured and we were somewhere else. A tea shop by appearances. She slid into a chair at a table by the window and cocked her head, clearly waiting for me to take the other chair.
"Harry," she said once I was seated, "Something horrible has happened and it is going to have far reaching consequences."
"Nope," I said. "Not my fault, not my problem. I've had it with being a 'chosen one'."
"You can't avoid being chosen Harry," she smiled. "You weren't chosen to defeat Riddle, good job with that by the way, you were chosen to gather the Hallows. Dealing with Riddle was only a step on that path."
"So… So I really am the Master of Death?"
That made Death laugh. Not the gentle giggles she had been enjoying throughout our very odd conversation, but full throated laughter. "Harry," she gasped, "you're killing me here. Do you really think that things as silly as a stone, a wand and an invisibility cloak would make you my master? I'm Death, Harry, I was born the day this Universe came into being and I will exist as long as the Universe remains. If I want to speak with the dead, I do, I don't need a rock. If I don't want to be seen, I'm not, I don't need a cloak, and for me a wand is nothing more than a back scratcher."
"Oh," I said, feeling more than a little stupid. "Then why did I need to gather the Hallows?"
"Because of what is happening today," Death said.
"A homicidal dead Superman?"
"No, Harry," she said gently. "Not entirely anyway. There are more universes that this one. In another, minor dimension there is a Death God imaginatively called Nekron who imagines himself my equal. Through a bit of admittedly ingenious subterfuge, he managed to steal a sliver of my supremacy and used it to power the black rings."
"Rings?" I asked. "There's more than the one Superman was using?"
"There are billions, and more being created every second," Death gestured and in between us a view of the Burrow shimmered into existence. The rickety building was shattered and burning. Four of black clad individuals stood around the burning wreckage. Slowly more figures rose from the ground, their limbs hanging at odd angles, their faces frozen in a rictus of agony. When I realized that two of the figures were Ron and Hermione, I lunged from the table.
"Calm down Harry," Death said quietly. "There's nothing you can do for them, unless you want to end them the way you ended Kal-l's reanimation. Nekron had magic users specifically targeted. As of seven minutes ago, you are the only surviving wand wizard in the entire universe. Your friends, everyone you knew are Black Lanterns now."
I stood in the middle of the deserted tea shop, trying not to be overwhelmed by the idea of everyone I knew being dead. "What do you want from me?"
She smiled, "I need a representative to deal with the living, to neutralize the reanimated, and to bring me Nekron's head. The sliver of power he stole from me was an insignificant splinter of the whole, but it is mine, and I want it back."
"I see," I said, when I clearly didn't. "And how am I supposed to do these things?"
"I will be granting you your own bit of my power, which combined with your magic should be enough to tip the scales in your favor."
"What do you need me for?" I asked. "Clearly you don't need me."
"But I do need you, Harry," she disagreed. "There are rules about how much I can interfere in the lives of the living. Having you as my agent will allow me more latitude that I've ever had before."
"And what's in it for me?"
"Nekron's actions have corrupted this reality to the point where my brother Destiny is going to fix things," she said.
Her brother? No, I decided, worry about that later. "Fix things?"
"He's going to do a reset," Death explained. "He's going counter most of the changes Nekron has made. The entire universe will be reordered to conform to what Destiny decides to do. What I can do for you is arrange for your friends to live in the new version. They will be different than you knew them, and they won't know you, but they will be alive."
How could I possibly turn that down? Death knew me all too well it seems. My 'people saving thing' was evidently well known even outside Hogwarts.
"That seems like a generous offer," I admitted. "Can I think about it?"
"No," Death replied. "You can't. The reset is happening soon, and you're going to need the closure of releasing your friends from reanimation. I need your answer now, Harry."
What else could I say?
We were back in the meadow where I had fought the dead Superman. I stood blinking at the sudden change in location as Death knelt down to remove the black ring from the deceased hero's hand.
"May I have my ring, Harry?"
I moved to remove the Gaunt Ring and suddenly remembered that my right hand was gone. Even though the heat of Superman's eye beams cauterized the wound, there should have been pain, shouldn't there? After the first few moments there hadn't been.
Death approached me and pulled the Gaunt Ring from my finger. She held it in her left hand and the black ring from Superman in her right, and pressed the two together while blowing on them, as if she was cooling a spoonful of soup. Once she was done, Death inspected the result and nodded to herself. She gently took my left hand and placed the now changed single ring onto my hand. The new ring was smaller than the Gaunt Ring, black as midnight in a coalmine. It offered no reflections, indeed, any light that hit is appeared to be absorbed utterly. The crown of ring held a silver ankh.
"My ring," Death said with a giggle when she saw me looking at it, "my sigil. There are certain advantages in working for me. How's your right hand?"
I held up my right hand and my eyes widened when I saw that it was back.
"Despite the black ring, you are not a black lantern, Harry. If anything you are a Death Lantern," Death looked pensive for a moment, "I think perhaps I'd prefer you to be known as my Knight."
Flying by ring is really cool. The only reason I wasn't enjoying it was that I was over the Burrow facing off against the closest thing I've ever had for a family.
The Weasley family, minus Bill and Charlie, but plus Hermione flew up to meet me, courtesy of their Black Lantern Rings.
Molly screamed her disgust with me, Arthur proclaimed his disappointment in my actions, the rest of the family started to attack me, with their beams harmlessly splashing off my environmental shield.
"This is your fault Harry," Hermione spat, taking her own path as usual. "If you had been here we might have had a chance, but no, you were off on your own and now you defy our Lord Nekron with this foul imitation of his sigil."
I was ready for this, Death had explained that part of being a Black Lantern was the twisting of minds of the dead to where they blamed the living for their plight prior to killing them. "I'm sorry Hermione," I said, "You're right, I should have been here. It wouldn't have made any difference, but I should have been here."
The Weasley twins were beating on my shield bubble with all their considerable might. For some reason, those two were more in tune with the Black Rings than the others.
"I suppose you're happy now Harry," Ron shouted, "If you couldn't fuck Hermione you wanted her dead."
"Ok, that's enough," I said, struggling to keep my anger under control. "Everyone on the ground, now."
They obediently descended to the ground near the destroyed Burrow, and waited for me to follow. This was a gift from Death, mostly because it amused her. Since the magic animating the Black Lanterns was hers, as was the magic behind my ring, as well as the Elder Wand and my Death's Cloak, she decided that, just this once, I could actually be the Master of Death… Well, the Master of the Dead, anyway. They would obey me, at least until Destiny's Reset.
"Weasleys," I said quietly when I landed. "Hermione, I'm so sorry about this, but I'm trying to fix it. You won't know me once it's fixed, but I'll know you, remember you. I'll make it better, I promise I will. Take off you rings."
Whether they wanted to or not, my family removed the rings that animated their forms and collapsed when the influence of the Rings left their bodies. I stood where I was, wondering if what I had done had caused them pain.
Using my ring, I gathered the black rings and willed their destruction. These particular rings would never harm another person. As each of the rings dissolved into nothing, I felt of rush of power, as if I were filled beyond capacity for a moment. Once that was done, I was numb. Not feeling anything really. My best friends, a girl I had come too really like, and the closest thing I'd ever had for a family lay dead at my feet, and I felt nothing.
I told myself that it was because all of this was going to be changed, that they would all live again. I pretended that we would laugh about it someday. I lied to myself a whole lot back then.
"Wipe your eyes, Harry, time is too short to mourn. Cherish this victory, the rest won't be as easy," Death said when she appeared at my elbow.
"Because the reset will change what powers the Black Lanterns that survive the change," she shrugged. "Destiny has the details, I don't really care. You will remain significantly more powerful, but they will put up a fight. I only did it so that you didn't need to physically kill your friends and family."
"Thank you," I whispered.
"Well, not kill them, since that was done a while ago, but you mortals rarely make the distinction," she continued.
"Thank you," I repeated.
"If you want to find a souvenir, make it quick, the reset is in 10 minutes and we will need to be off plane when it happens."
Searching with the ring made a seemingly impossible task easy. I found many things I wanted to keep, and stored them away in storage pockets that the voice in the ring called 'subspace storage'. Examples of the twin's pranking material, the Weasley family clock, Hermione's copy of Hogwarts a History, and a wizarding photo of Ron, Hermione, and me.
"Ready?" Death called. "It's time to go."