Disclaimer: JKR would die of shame if she'd written this.
Unbeta'd, because I couldn't subject anyone I actually like to editing this. And you have my sincerest apologies. Um. I'm assuming people would strangle me if I actually tried continuing this, so assume it's a oneshot.
When Dumbledore told him that death was the next great adventure, Harry hadn't thought he'd meant it quite so…literally.
He'd gone and offed Voldemort as planned a few months before, and then he'd woken up on his eighteenth birthday to find himself facing the business end of Bellatrix Lestrange's wand and a very familiar green light. His last thought, before he bought the proverbial farm, was that he really hoped he wouldn't see his life flash before his eyes. There weren't many fun bits.
For once, he got his wish. And when he opened his eyes, he found himself staring at a big glowing ball of benevolent energy. As for how he knew it was benevolent…well, it was white. And glowing. And white.
Yeah, so maybe he tended to jump to conclusions. But it hadn't killed him ye…
"Harry James Potter," the gleaming orb of goodwill said in a light, airy voice that put him in mind of sunshine, daisies, and whiskers on kittens, "we have called you here for a purpose."
Harry stared blankly. Then, blinking, he looked down at himself.
Wonderful. He just had to go and kick the bucket in his lucky Firebolt pajamas. He was never going to live this down.
Then he brightened – if he wasn't alive, he didn't have to live anything down. Unless he got teased about it in heaven. But even then, he wouldn't be alive, so it'd be something he couldn't die down. Unless everything got switched around after death, so maybe it was something he couldn't die up?
"Ahem," said the shining sphere of munificence, in a distinctly put-out manner. "We said, we have called you here for a purpose."
"No you haven't," Harry replied cheerfully. "I'm through with purposes."
The incandescent globe of friendliness seemed rather befuddled. "Excuse us?" it said, sounding insulted. "We imagine we know our motives better than you, mortal. And if we say you're here for a purpose, you're here for a purpose."
"Can a dead person be mortal?" Harry asked curiously. "I mean, if you're alive, then sure – everyone knows you'll end up dead. But if you're already dead, you can't exactly die again."
The iridescent bubble was rather less jolly by now, and had taken on a reddish, angry cast. "Keep it up and we'll put that theory to the test, you little bastard." The sunlight was gone from its voice – now it was all dead puppies and thunderstorms. And dead puppies aren't much fun.
Harry nodded. A lot of things bewildered him, but he understood death threats pretty well.
"Now," the light snapped, "listen up. Tom 'Convenient Middle Name' Riddle screwed things up pretty damned badly down on that filthy ball of mud you used to call home. Horcruxes are a perversion of nature, and when he didn't die after his first confrontation with you, fate and destiny got all tangled around. No one he or his Death Eaters killed since that attack was supposed to die."
"So…you're saying it wasn't my time? Are you sending me back? Second chances and all that?" Harry asked. "Can I tell everyone that the light at the end of the tunnel gets tetchy when you question it?"
He had a feeling that the sparkling sphere was getting annoyed. Very annoyed.
"Listen up, arseface," it snarled, "or you will suffer tortures unknown to man."
"Worse than the Cruciatus?"
"Worse than a threesome with Umbridge and Pettigrew!"
"Good," the light said, relieved. "Now. You have a choice – either you go on to the great Quidditch Pitch in the sky and let everyone who's ever cared about you down, or we send you back in time so you can set things right. Save those who were never meant to die. Untangle destiny. Straighten out fate. Comb through chance. Destroy the doom-"
Harry raised his hand, too frightened to interrupt verbally. "Yes?" the light asked, back to sunshine and happy little flowers now that the deceased Boy Who Lived was being quiet, though with a slight lingering edge of decapitated puppies at having its speech disrupted.
"How'm I supposed to do that?"
"You'll have help," the light said grudgingly. "You can choose three companions."
"Anyone?" Harry asked, suddenly wondering if the fact that he was the walking…well, the standing and talking dead…meant he was a zombie. He didn't feel any particular cravings for brains. Well, no more than usual.
"Anyone," the light said smugly.
"Right then," Harry said with a grin, "Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Cedric Diggory."
There was a long silence. Then the light said kindly, as if to a simpleton, "Cedric is dead."
"Yeah, but so am I," he pointed out sensibly.
There was another extended quiet, before the light pulsed once and demanded, "Why Diggory?"
Harry had given this a great deal of thought – at least, five whole seconds' worth – and had an answer stunning in its simplicity and well-reasoned logic. "He's pretty."
"You're gay?" the light cried, astonished.
Harry considered this carefully, then shrugged. "I dunno. I think I'm just sexysexual."
"Sexysexual?" the light said faintly.
The light seemed to think about this. "And your entire reasoning is that he's pretty?" it asked, its tone indecipherable.
"Well, that and he used to flirt with me," Harry said. "I mean, I didn't realize it at the time, but really – telling me to get naked and wet in the prefect's bathroom is damned forward. But mostly it's the prettiness."
"We suppose we can't argue with that," the light said, eventually. "He really is gorgeous. And we always did say he was too young and pretty to have died. Very well. Ackbay inyay imetay!"
Harry's brow furrowed. "Wait a sec," he cried, even as the world twisted around him, "how come I can't do spells in Pig Latin?"
Harry woke with a start, breathing heavily. "Well, that was strange," he muttered to himself.
That's when he noticed he was in the cupboard under the stairs, and about ten years old.
What he said next doesn't bear repeating, but far away in the afterlife, a certain happy ball of radiance was very offended. Or at least, it would have been, if it hadn't been too busy looking at a once-again living Cedric Diggory, who was staring at himself in the mirror and wondering if he could legitimately claim to be too sexy for his fate.