Nine Lives

Kneazle

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. The image of the Devil is taken from the movie Bedazzled and Elizabeth Hurley.

Summary: End of 5th Year: Harry is fed up and tries to off himself – only, because it's Harry, nothing ever goes right. Harry makes a deal with God and the Devil, with the balance of the world resting on his success.

God n: (1) A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions. (2) The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being. (3) A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality. (4) An image of a supernatural being; an idol. (5) One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god. (6) A very handsome man. (7) A powerful ruler or despot.

Devil n: (1) often Devil In many religions, the major personified spirit of evil, ruler of Hell, and foe of God. (2) A subordinate evil spirit; a demon. (3) A wicked or malevolent person. (4) A person: a handsome devil; the poor devil. (5) An energetic, mischievous, daring, or clever person. (6) Printing. A printer's devil. (7) A device or machine, especially one having teeth or spikes and used for tearing. (8) An outstanding example, especially of something difficult or bad: has a devil of a temper.


PROLOGUE

Sirius was falling again.

Sirius was always falling, especially lately.

Voldemort wouldn't let Harry have a single, blissful, undisturbed night of sleep since he returned from Hogwarts; Voldemort kept sending Harry images of Sirius, of Bellatrix, and Wormtail. They would replay over and over and over until Harry's subconscious would pick up on it and show Sirius's last moments on Earth.

Sirius was falling.

If Harry was more into culture, he probably could have admired the curve of Sirius's back, the skillful way the duelers danced around the Veil and other people, the beautiful ballet that a deadly battle could be.

But Harry wasn't into culture. Harry was into Quidditch. Harry was a wizard. Harry was also a teenager who was smaller than all his classmates and looked like a twelve-year-old instead of a soon-to-be sixteen-year-old.

Harry had also seen his godfather murdered in front of him.

And so, Harry decided one evening after sending his mandatory Order of the Phoenix letter on every third day that he would join Sirius, his parents and Cedric in the Great Beyond. He would finally tell them how sorry he was, how he failed them and couldn't stop Tom Riddle or protect them like they protected him. That he was nothing special and a nobody, and deserved the pain he lived with. How he would understand if they wished to never see him, never speak to him again.

Harry made out all the preparations; he wrote an informal will and signed it, leaving it on his bedroom desk. He sent a copy earlier to the goblins at Gringotts, and carefully detailed everything he owned and who he deemed best fit to receive his personal artifacts.

With that done, and the Dursleys sound asleep in their comfy beds, Harry spent the last few minutes of his life staring at his reflection in the mirror in the upstairs bathroom.

I'm mad. I'm really mad, but I don't want to deal with this crap of Voldemort, the prophecy and Dumbledore. I'm a bloody puppet to all three – Harry Potter, puppet. That's me, he thought with a scowl, watching his green eyes narrow back at him, and his cheeks flush a dark pink with anger.

Of course, they weren't as dark as the nearly black, thick blood that ran down his hands from his wrists and into the bathroom sink. He hadn't wanted to make a mess for Aunt Petunia to clean up, after all. Having all his blood run down the bathroom sink was a good idea – until Harry realized he would probably faint before he bled out; then all the blood would smear on the floor anyway.

Oh well, the teen shrugged, it's not like I'll be around for her to yell at anyway.

In those last few moments that Harry had consciousness, forcibly blinking the black spots from his eyes, Harry felt a twinge of guilt for throwing this on Remus Lupin. He had, after all, just lost Sirius and now he'd lose Harry too.

But seconds after, Harry fell to the floor and welcomed the quickly closing in blackness. He was unconscious.


He didn't stay unconscious for long though. With a start Harry stood up, looking around the fashionably furnished office he was lying in.

The floor was pure black marble (Harry could see his reflection), and three walls were made of mirrors. A metallic desk stood in the center of the room with a chair and the entire wall behind it was a large, built-in filing cabinet.

On the desk was a jar of pens (red only), and a few loose papers.

"I'm sorry," said a sultry British voice, which was slightly rushed and business-like. "I hadn't realized I had a visitor!"

Harry turned on his heels quickly, his wand in his hand. He had totally missed the see-through glass door that blended in with the mirrored walls. Standing in the doorway wasn't something that he would totally miss, though.

The woman was tall, with long, loose brown hair that reached halfway down her back, and wore a very sexy black skirt suit and stilettos. Her eyes were brown and rimmed with black mascara and eyeliner, making them her focal point; her lips were a ruby red.

"That's… that's okay," Harry replied, clearing his throat. "But who are you?"

The woman smiled warmly and strode to the office chair behind her desk, sitting down when promptly reaching it.

"Who I am at this point isn't very important. More like, why are you holding a wand and who you are, are the important questions to ask," the woman continued, folding her hands.

"I'm a wizard!" exclaimed Harry in surprise. "That's enough reason to carry a wand!"

"Oh," the woman said, deflating, "You're one of those recent wizards, who need wands to focus their magic. Shame. I miss those old powerful dodders with long beards and naughty words coming out of their mouth when I introduce myself."

"Should I start listing off the curse words I know?" asked Harry hesitantly.

"Certainly not!"

Harry jumped; another voice had joined his and the woman's, but this one was American, deeper, slower and had a relaxed tinge to it.

Walking into the room with a swagger was a young black man wearing torn jeans and a cigarette tucked behind his left ear.

"Cursing isn't good," the man continued. "You might never know who is listening in."

"Right…" Harry said slowly, turning to watch the woman as she frowned at the man.

"I wasn't expecting you," she said.

The man grinned, in a gleam of white, even teeth. "I wasn't expecting to come here, myself – but then he appeared."

"Well, since he showed up in my office, he's mine."

"You don't know who he is. I've been watching him since his birth."

"That's a bit creepy, and I don't really care… if he showed up in my office he must have done something to be here."

Harry's head swiveled back and forth as he watched the two face off with a desk between them, all the while talking about him as though he were a possession.

"Um… excuse me?"

The woman and man stopped arguing and turned to look at Harry.

"Where am I, exactly? London? Somewhere else in Europe?"

The woman began to laugh. "Priceless, darling – he doesn't know!"

Harry scowled.

The man sighed and with a wave of his hand, two comfortable looking chairs appeared on his side of the desk. "Please, Harry, sit."

"Are you a wizard too?" Harry asked, settling into his new seat, and looking confusedly at the woman when she giggled and crossed a leg.

"He's hardly a wizard, although I'm sure he's been complimented as one by humans before," the woman laughed. "Harry – that's your name, right? – you're in my office, which doesn't have a postal address I'm afraid. But if you did need to know, you're currently in Hell."

What?

"Riiiiiight... Someone hasn't been taking their medication today," said a cheerful Harry, wagging a finger at the woman.

"No, really!" the woman said, sitting up straight. "You're in Hell. I get all the Damned Souls from above on Earth, which means you must have committed a sin."

At Harry's blank look, the woman sighed.

"I never get Catholics or Christians anymore. All I get are atheists who don't have a bleedin' clue," the woman grumbled.

The man decided to intervene and say soothingly, "It is true, Harry, you're in Hell. I came down from Heaven especially to see you."

Panic was slowly rising in Harry. He expected he'd go straight to Heaven to see his parents… not go to Hell! And if he was in Hell, in that woman's office, what did that make her?

"So… so… who are you?" Harry stuttered out, his eyes moving quickly from the bored woman to the sympathetic man.

"I'm the Devil," the woman said helpfully, pulling out a nail filer from her pen jar.

The man straightened up. "And I'm God."

Time seemed to stand still as Harry observed the two; they acted nothing like the God and Devil he learned about in school, or from Aunt Petunia. In fact, they were nothing like what he ever heard about in popular culture.

"Really?"

"Yes."

"For sure?"

"Completely."

Harry took a deep breath. "Okay, then why me?"

At this, the woman perked up, put the filer down, and snapped her fingers. Immediately, out of nowhere, a large stack of paper fell from the ceiling and onto her desk with a loud thump.

The Devil began to flip through it until she got near the end. She let out an "Ah-ha!" and looked up at Harry and God.

"You slit your wrists. That's suicide, Harry. And I get any suicide cases," the Devil hummed a little song. "I get you – and you get to be ripped apart constantly. Think Prometheus. Poor fellow, he still screams every once and a while when that eagle I sent to watch over him gets a bit feisty."

Harry paled.

"Now, now, don't get too excited," God injected. "Harry had quite a list of good deeds to his name that can counteract that. Selfless acts."

The Devil raised a perfect eyebrow. "So?"

"So," drawled God, "His good deeds outweigh his sin. You know the law."

The Devil pouted. "Still… it does say that he's not that good."

"Pardon?" paled Harry.

The Devil smirked slightly at the teen and began reading a list. "Underage magic, fighting with his guardians, vandalism, breaking school rules, disrespect for school authority, use of one of the Unforgivable curses on another fellow human being, swearing, blasphemy, and never going to church."

Harry sent an imploring look at God. God frowned. "Well, those are fairly damning…"

"Ha!" cheered the Devil, smiling prettily. "Now, don't worry too much Harry, you'll just have to sign over your soul and we can get on with business as usual."

"Doesn't someone else get a final say in this?" asked Harry weakly, his eyes traveling between the two immortals between them. "Like, there was that prophecy Dumbledore told me… so, shouldn't the Fates or Death be down here on my case as well?"

Harry couldn't believe that he had just asked for Death and the Fates to represent him. He also couldn't believe that he unconsciously capitalized their titles and believed them to be real people, too.

The Devil frowned. "Actually, that's a good point." She turned to God. "Where do you think they are?"

Frowning himself, God nodded. "Just don't sign anything," he warned to Harry, and left the room.

Harry was silent. He was a little worried about his sanity, because, if anyone could hold a perfectly reasonable conversation with God and the Devil when they sat side-by-side, debating over where his soul should go, Harry knew they were half-baked.

The Devil spoke up after a bit. "You know…" she began hesitantly. "God is right; you do have a lot of good deeds in your record."

Harry blinked.

"And well, most of your damns were because you were trying to do something redeeming," the Devil looked a bit put-out at this.

"What are you trying to say?" asked Harry, hope edging itself into his tone.

She smiled. "I think we could work out an agreement where your soul goes, between you, God and myself. Once Fate gets here and clears some things up with us, we'll be able to move on."

"What do you think will happen?" asked Harry.

The Devil frowned, tapping a red nail against her lips. "Well, if there truly is a prophecy, then you are destined to do what it says… vaguely, of course. Prophecies are fishy things, Harry. There is no timeframe, no restrictions on usage, things like that."

"So, that whole line of 'neither can live while the other survives' and 'the power the Dark Lord knows not' are vague subclauses?"

God arrived back in the Devil's office with an old man at his heels. If Harry were to describe this man, he'd say he looked like the doctor in Back to the Future – slightly eccentric, but well-humored and fatherly.

"Brought back Fate. He was in his office going spare," commented God, turning to face Harry as he sat in his comfy chair. "It turns out you gave him quite the headache; you weren't suppose to die."

"Oh, bugger."

Fate gently chided the teenager. "Now, watch your mouth around your present company, m'boy, and let us introduce ourselves properly.

"I am Fate, the one you have oft railed against in terms of that prophecy you recently heard."

Harry stared at the man. "It's so much harder to hate someone once you have seen their face and met them in person."

God smiled benignly and the Devil harrumphed. Fate continued, "So very true. Now, as you know the contents of the prophecy, let us share it with our companions, yes?"

So Harry agreed, and recited:

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, born to those who thrice defied him; Born as the seventh month dies. He will be marked as the Dark Lords' equal and have a power the Dark Lord knows not. Neither can live while the other survives, for either must die at the hand of the other.

"Et cetra, et cetra," mumbled Harry.

The Devil looked particularly interested in the prophecy's retelling while God and Fate frowned.

"Now, Harry," began Fate, "I'd like to begin by saying I didn't have any real plan for you when you were born. You hadn't been assigned a Destiny yet – you were still too small and young to see what your strengths and weaknesses were."

"Pardon?" Harry seemed to be saying that a lot.

Fate sighed. "When a child in the world is born, I am aware of it. I had no inkling that Voldemort would go after your family, since they didn't exactly fit his usual profile scanning. He was looking for a Pureblood wizard, and you, as a half-blood, do not exactly fit it, and yet… you do."

"Pardon?"

"Your mother was still a witch and your father a Pureblood. Consider yourself a ¾ pureblood, if it helps. As for my design, I wasn't sure what you would grow into. I cannot see into the future; I take what I know of the family's past, their current attitude and the state of the world that they live in and choose appropriate destinies. These destinies are not set in stone, and they can be changed or modified over time if a person strays from what they once were."

God hummed.

Harry stared.

The Devil smirked.

Fate continued, "As such, when I gave you your destiny, it was after the prophecy was made and told to Dumbledore. It was also after you were attacked that evening. I decided that you would be a leader, a strong and compelling one… but with the unplanned and unforeseen death of one Sirius Black, that destiny changed."

"I killed myself."

"Correct," inserted the Devil, "meaning he's mine."

Fate shook his head. "I cannot allow it, madam."

The Devil lost her smile. "Why not?"

"Voldemort will win. Any souls he will kill, those who were Mr. Potter's family and friends, will be sent to Heaven while you will receive barely any souls of those who deserve your nine layers of Hell."

The Devil rose to her heel-clad feet. "Impossible! Even the best of people will come here to receive judgment before going to Heaven or Limbo! Even the best of people have a little sin in them!"

Fate shook his head of white hair. "They will die valiantly and as martyrs. You know that law."

"That law?" echoed Harry.

God answered, "Any martyr who takes their own life to benefit or save others – whether the majority of the world or not thinks it is politically correct – goes directly to Heaven."

"So now what?" sulked the Devil, pouting her ruby red lips and crossing her arms.

Fate turned to Harry. "At this present time, you will still fail. You do not have the skills necessary to fight this Dark Lord. He has delved deeply into sacred arts – sacred because those who learnt them had to have much control on their emotions lest the Darkness reigns itself tightly to them."

The Devil spoke, "So what good is Harry if he still can't fight properly?"

Fate continued, looking at the Devil with a glare, "I propose that we offer Mr. Potter a deal."

The Devil once again perked up while God hummed again and wove his fingers together in contemplation.

"What kind of deal?" hedged Harry.

Fate took a deep breath and looked Harry in the eye. "You deliver to us the souls of the Dark Lords' Death Eaters… every single one… and you deliver the splintered souls of Tom Marvolo Riddle."

"Splintered souls?" questioned Harry. This was the first he'd ever heard of separate soul pieces.

God's face turned dark. "The splintering of souls is unnatural, Harry. What Voldemort did was partake in a dark ritual based on death, horror and despair. When he did a particularly violent killing, he found a vessel to safeguard a tiny piece of his soul. I believe he has done this seven times – a powerful number to your kind – and has left those pieces of his soul about on Earth."

"So I would have to find them and destroy them before going after Voldemort?" asked Harry.

"Yes," the Devil said, somberly. "I usually do not get those who have splintered their souls… one tried, some time ago, to walk my realm without the proper means. I believe he was one of the first ever documented… he still walks my realm, but mad. Even my demons and guards do not touch him. The stench of decay, horror, and death is so strong on him we are even repulsed. There is only so much darkness that is natural before we too, shudder in fear and horror."

"But you still take the souls."

The Devil smiled wanly at Harry. "Those souls I do not touch. I collect souls because it is my job. Those souls are destroyed completely, never to be reborn in another human being, never to be heard or seen of again. They are abominations."

Harry was almost stunned by the ferocity in the Devil's voice, but knew what she spoke was true.

"The splintering of souls, Harry," continued God "Is called a Horcrux in your world. You must find them and destroy them. You have already done this to one… the diary."

"But you already said I don't have the necessary skills or power to fight Voldemort!" protested Harry. "How on Earth would I manage to find the power to destroy a Horcrux and deliver the souls of his Death Eaters? I'd still have to kill them… unless you're going to turn me into a Dementor."

When no one answered Harry cried in dismay. "I knew it! I knew it – you're going to turn me into a Dementor for the rest of my life!"

"Oh, shut up," snapped the Devil, "we're not going to turn you into a Dementor."

"Then what?" asked Harry. "What's in it for me to do this?"

The Devil smiled. "Oh, smart lad. Another tick for me, that one is greed!"

God shook his head. "No, it's preservation. What does he receive to take care of his friends and family? Good deed. That one is mine."

The Devil pouted again and fell back into her chair, sulking.

Fate cleared his throat and asked, "May we get back to the topic at hand, please?"

God, the Devil, and Harry sat up straighter and nodded.

Fate smiled benignly. "In that case, I suggest that we offer Harry the power that he needs to fight Voldemort, and that – should you two agree – we waiver Harry's mortality."

"What?" gapped God, rising slowly from his seat. "Waive Harry's mortality? That's nearly as bad as the horcruxes, I simply cannot allow it."

"Compromise," interrupted the Devil in a sing-song voice. "I suggest that we waive Harry's mortality nine times, quite like a cat." She glanced at Harry suggestively, and the teenager bristled. "He's quite the little lion, isn't it?"

God glanced at the Devil's desk and saw Harry's open file, which had Harry James Potter, Gryffindor written across the top. He scoffed. "Cheater."

She smiled. "Naturally."

Harry shivered and the blasé attitude the immortals adopted and spoke. "So… nine lives. I get hit with the Killing curse; I live, but am down to eight lives?"

"Yes," answered Fate. He glanced at God and the Devil. "Is this acceptable then?"

Both nodded, now reading over Harry's file together.

Fate beamed, and clapped his hands. "Now, Harry," he said, drawing Harry's attention away from the other two, "You will need much more power than you have currently. While you do have the magic and strength and willpower to take on the Dark Lord without the boost I will give you, that power will not manifest for another decade and will do you no good currently."

"What will you do?" asked Harry, sitting back down.

Fate took God's vacant chair and explained, "I will confer with Destiny and we will find an appropriate magical vessel that we have been saving for you."

"Pardon?" repeated Harry.

Fate cringed slightly. "Yes, yes, I realize you do not know much of our way… allow me to explain as easily as I can: when a child is born, I make the decision of whether or not they will be a squib, magical, muggleborn or non-magical. With those who are magical, I must go to our container room. In that room, there are… I suppose imagine jars, glowing jars. And in those jars are magic and its very basic level. Do you follow me so far?"

"Yes."

"Now, for each magical child, I assign a jar. Those jars are not stable, necessarily, but imagine… ah, yes, your friend Ms. Granger. I jar I chose for her was labeled at an 84, where young Mr. Malfoy was a 76. Ms. Granger is more powerful than Mr. Malfoy, correct?"

"I understand," replied Harry, realization dawning on his face. "What number was I assigned?"

"The same as Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore: a jar with 120 written on it. Merlin himself was only a 115, but he managed to learn and manipulate much more," offered Fate with a secret smile on his face. "Now, you cannot reach your magical potential at this time… so I will find you a new jar, pushing your magic level – which are currently only 90 – to 120. Once you hit your magical maturation, which will happen in your late twenties or early thirties, you will push your magical level up to 150 once I give you the extra 30 you need."

"I understand completely. I really do," laughed Harry, surprised. "I thought magical theory would be a bore, but I actually follow and understand this, thank you!"

Fate smiled. "Of course, there are certain… rules and precautions we must address with God and the Devil."

The two, who were half-listening, raised their heads.

"Excuse me?" asked the Devil, in the middle of reading Harry's third year file.

"We must go over the rules with Harry for his task," Fate repeated. God hummed and stood straight.

"The Death Eaters aren't good people, Harry – they must not remain on Earth and corrupt other souls," he said, in a severe, yet patient voice. "The Devil here would like those souls, and I agree that they should be sent to her."

"That means," the Devil said quietly and seriously, looking at Harry with intense brown eyes, "That you will have to kill, Harry."

Harry swallowed audibly. "But won't that go on my record? And bring me back here when I'm done? I just want to see my parents and Sirius and Cedric again."

God smiled. "I think that can be worked out. We will waiver all Death Eater, Death Eater supporters, and Voldemort's deaths from your record. Should you complete your task, you will be able to join your parents and Cedric in Heaven."

"Great," Harry replied, with a tight smile. "What else?"

"Be creative!" offered the Devil with a smile. "The more creative, the more I'll remove from your file!"

"Devil," warned God reprovingly, "What are you saying?"

"Don't stick to magic," she continued, flashing God a narrow-eyed look. "You say that these Death Eaters support pureblood magical supremacy? Well, why not find yourself a gun or knife and take them out that way?"

"But I'm underage," argued Harry, "If I get a gun it would have to be illegally."

"I'll strike it from the record," offered the Devil with a gleam in her eyes. Faintly afraid, Harry turned to God.

The dark skinned man hummed and nodded. "I understand… it seems possible."

Harry's jaw dropped, and he stuttered, flabbergasted, "You're conspiring to murder! And you're God!"

"Well," the man blushed, "I could hardly be without emotion if people consider me compassionate, can't I? I mean," he blushed deeper here; "even I can admire the talents of others when it comes to riding the world of evil."

"You're not supposed to work like that!" argued Harry.

"What am I, a wind-up doll?" replied God tartly. "I have feelings too, even if I am immortal and have been around here since the dawn of time. I often get bored and like to fiddle."

"Fiddle?" gapped the Devil. "Is that what you call the Hundred Year's War? You fiddled by giving a few whispered suggestions to Joan of Arc and oops – poor girl was burned to death!"

"She was a martyr, and she led her people to many victories," argued God stiffly, "And she's having quite a time in Heaven, relaxing at the hot springs."

"The Plague?"

"Merely a miscalculation with the rat species, Devil. Honestly."

"Atlantis?"

"They were constantly mocking me, the Altanteans; did you see those wings they sprouted? Creating an entire new planet to live on?"

"Oh, cry me a river. Any more 'fiddling' and I could get you, according to those rules we were given so long ago," laughed the Devil gleefully. "Anything else you'd like to admit?"

Harry rubbed his temples. He was getting a headache.

While God and the Devil continued to argue, Fate left the room and Harry decided to look around.

Stopping at one of the mirrored walls, Harry watched in amazement as it rippled, like a droplet of water hitting a smooth watery surface, and then showed Grimmauld Place.

Remus Lupin was sitting at the kitchen table, his head in his hands, dried tear streaks on his cheeks and a rapidly burning cigarette leaning against the cap to a bottle of Fire whiskey.

"C'mon, Remus," said Bill Weasley, entering the kitchen from off the mirror pane, "You need to get some sleep."

"How can I sleep when Harry's at Hogwarts, in a coma after nearly trying to off himself?!" snarled the man, rising from his seat suddenly. "I nearly lost the last thing I have to Lily and James and Sirius, and you're telling me to sleep?? I won't sleep until I know he's bloody well fine! And when he does wake up, I'm going to give him such a trashing he'll wish he hadn't!!"

Why, Remus, I never knew you had it in you, thought Harry, slightly amused. He knew Remus wouldn't really trash him, but rather, give him a rather stern talking to, and then crush him into a hug.

The image rippled again and this time showing the Burrow – Ron's room. In it sat the twins, Ginny and Ron.

"Why would he do that?" asked aloud Ron, rubbing his cheeks. Ginny hiccupped and leaned into Ron's shoulder.

"Sirius was murdered in front of him, Ron, and you often said that he acted oddly after he spoke with Dumbledore. Something was bothering him," said one twin – Harry identified him with Fred.

George spoke up, "He had every reason to think like nothing mattered anymore."

"But why didn't he tell me about it?" asked Ron, in a plain, small voice that sounded more like an eight year old than a sixteen year old. "Or even Hermione? Remus? Anyone?"

The scene changed again, echoing Ginny's loud sobs, until Harry saw an unrecognized room. It was cluttered with books and a writing desk with its top entirely covered with papers, and a large canopy bed headboard was pushed against the wall, prominently displayed in the center of the room.

Hermione was lying on the bed, clutching a stuffed toy tightly in her arms, sobbing heavily. An older woman – Harry thought to be her mother – was sitting next to her on the bed, running her hand over Hermione's shoulders and speaking softly to her.

"Shh, oh, Hermione dear… please, what's wrong?"

"It's Harry," sobbed out Hermione, sniffling. She shifted and looked up at her mother, eyes rimmed red and puffy. "He… Ron owled me about it… Harry's at Hogwarts. He tried to kill himself!"

Mrs. Granger gave a muffled gasp, and then gathered her daughter near her, pulling her half on her lap.

"Oh, my poor baby girl," she soothed, "It'll be okay, Harry's a strong man, he'll pull himself out of it… he'll be all right, Hermione…"

"Mum… he saw his parents die… he saw Cedric die… he saw his godfather die… what if he doesn't want to come out of it? What if he wants to leave me alone here, all by myself? Without him? I could never continue on without Harry Potter in my life!"

Mrs. Granger's face softened and her eyes narrowed in sympathy. "Oh, oh, Hermione… did you ever tell him? Did you tell him –"

"I think that's enough Harry," interrupted the Devil, and the image disappeared without an echo, and all Harry saw was his startled, pale face.

Turning, Harry saw that the Devil and God had a new piece of cream paper on the desk, near Harry's seat. "Are you ready to help us, Harry?" asked Fate, stepping back into the room.

Nodding, and not trusting his voice, Harry sat in his seat, and read over the contract.

Contract between Harry James Potter, Wizard & the Devil & God & Fate

(1) Harry Potter must deliver to the Devil ALL souls that have been marked with the Dark Mark

(2) Harry Potter must deliver to the Devil ALL sympathetic, supporters to the Dark Lord, he who goes by the name Voldemort, A.K.A. Tom Riddle

(3) Harry Potter must KILL the above mentioned souls, also known as "The Damned";

(3.1) How Harry Potter does so is of no consequence to the Devil or God

(3.2) All deaths shall be stricken from Harry Potter's file

(3.3) The more creative Harry Potter is in the deaths, the more will be stricken from his file

"I can't believe you added that in," groused God, frowning.

"It's incentive," argued the Devil. "Deal with it."

Harry continued reading.

(4) Harry Potter's magical levels will be boosted by Fate's intervention

(4.1) Magical skills and talents will be honed and learned subconsciously or through trial and error

(5) Harry Potter will be given temporary immortality

(5.1) He will have NINE lives and for each time he should die, one life will be removed until none remain

(5.2) The above mentioned clause will continue even after his succession in delivering the Damned

(6) When Harry Potter finally does die and comes to Limbo for judgment, should he succeed in his quest he will go to Heaven regardless of his file

(6.1) Harry Potter may join his parents and Cedric Diggory in the after life

Harry frowned. "Why my parents and Cedric? Where's Sirius?"

Fate started. "Sirius? As in, Sirius Black?" He began to mutter.

"Pardon?" interrupted the Devil, clearly confused. "What are you blathering on about, Fate?"

The wiry and spry deity turned around and blinked owlishly at the three staring at him. "Sirius Black! He fell into that veil in the boy's Department of Mysteries."

"And?" asked God.

"Well, he isn't with any of you, is he?" questioned Fate tartly. "He's probably waiting in Limbo."

"What?" exclaimed Harry, jumping to his feet. "He's not dead?"

God frowned. "Well, not technically…"

The Devil smiled toothily, and rose to her feet. "I agree with Harry, let's go see Sirius!"

Harry shot a suspicious glance at her. "Why do you want to come so badly…?"

The Devil raised a single, arched brown eyebrow. "What do you think? He nearly got Severus Snape killed in their fifth year. If he's in Limbo, I ought to be talking to him in my office."

"He's a good man!" shouted Harry. "He died to protect me and did what he thought was best to save my parents! Everyone makes mistakes!"

God and Fate were quiet, with a somber look in their eyes, while the Devil's eyes were flickering in the artificial light.

"That's right Harry," she said softly. "Everyone makes mistakes."

And suddenly, Harry couldn't breathe; it felt like a Bludger had hit him in his chest as the Devil's words echoed in his head.

Everyone makes mistakes… Everyone makes mistakes… Everyone makes mistakes…

She was referring to him… his mistake at the end of his fifth year, what got Sirius killed, Hermione so badly hurt, Ginny's ankle broken, and Ron's scars with the Brains… but everyone makes mistakes.

He could too. He was merely human.

Well, for now at least.

Harry stumbled physically, blinking as her words impacted him. Finally, after wheezing and drawing in deep breaths of air, he stood tall and looked at the Devil in her kohl-rimmed eyes and nodded.

She smiled.

"Now," interrupted Fate impatiently and sullenly, "can we go see Sirius Black?"


Sirius wasn't exactly sure where he was. One second he was battling his cousin, and the next, he was falling face-first, belly up from an unknown height and landing painfully on a concrete floor.

He was in a rectangular room, with a desk and judge's podium at one end, and a row of seats against the two long walls. Behind the desk were two elevator doors; one was marked "Heaven," and the other, "Hell."

There were a few others sitting in the room; one young man with the back of his head missing, a bloody young girl who was glaring at the young man and sitting near another young man with blood all down his front. Sirius supposed it was a lover's spat.

An old woman sat clutching her handbag a few seats down from him, ever so often muttering about the Knight Bus running her over.

Sirius sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He had heard Harry's pain-filled voice calling for him, from the ceiling, but the voices had long since faded.

Suddenly, there was a ping! and the elevator door marked 'Hell' opened up. The young male attendant behind the desk immediately jumped to his feet, a scowl on his face. Sirius watched impassively until the scowl disappeared and a look of fear replaced it.

Sirius shifted his eyes and they widened. A beautiful woman in black was speaking lowly with the attendant, while a scruffy black man and Dumbledore-looking man stood next to her. Another figure was behind them, with unruly black hair, but Sirius couldn't make his details out.

When the attendant pointed at him, however, he rose from his seat and quelled his shaking nerves.

The three plus other figure moved to him – the bickering couple and young man fell silent, and so did the witch. Sirius flashed a charming smile at the woman and said, as smoothly as he could, "Hi there, sweet thing."

The black man's eyebrows rose and a snort came from behind the eccentric-looking man.

The woman, however, smirked. "And I believe vanity is a point for me, God. This just keeps getting better and better."

"Sirius," admonished a familiar voice, "Do try to tone down the charm… I doubt the Devil will be interested in a mortal anyway."

Sirius's shocked gaze was jerked away from the woman – the Devil?! I just hit on the Devil??? – to the familiar voice, and involuntarily Sirius made a noise somewhere between a choke and a sob.

"Harry?!"

Harry flung himself to his godfather's chest and hugged the man tightly, as Sirius clenched him to his body and wept into his godson's shoulder.

"Don't ever do that again!" whispered Harry, squeezing his eyes shut tightly, so not to cry. "Don't leave me again!"

"What are you doing here?" Sirius finally asked, pulling back from his godson. "And where is here, exactly?"

"You're in Limbo," the eccentric man answered helpfully. "Where dead souls go before going to Heaven or Hell."

Sirius gapped, before looking down at his godson and demanded, "What the hell did you do?"

"Cursing!" chirped the Devil gleefully. "Two points!"

Harry glared at her and she stuck her tongue out. "Nyah!"

Harry sighed and turned back to Sirius. "It's a bit of a long story…"

"Back to my office," continued the Devil happily, motioning Fate and God to follow, while Sirius and Harry took up the end of the group.

The attendant was still in shock, Sirius was happy to note, as the elevator doors shut.


Two hours later, Harry signed his name with a flourish on the improved upon contract. Sirius was now going back with Harry as his partner in crime, and was exonerated for previous sins and would, as well, be given temporary immortality. Although he was only given four extra lives than Harry's nine, both were pleased with the end results.

"Now, Harry," began Fate, looking stern as the three sat in his cramped and dark office, "The power boost you'll receive will make you a powerful wizard… it will also be shown in your cast spells and anything magical you do, or how you feel magic.

"Voldemort and Dumbledore have years of experience playing, manipulating and learning foreign magic. You, my boy, are only fifthteen"—

"Nearly sixteen!"

"—nearly sixteen and do not have that talent. As such, I have decided that I will also give you this," finished Fate, holding up what appeared to be a stick of chewing gum.

"What is it?" asked Sirius, eyeing it.

"This," beamed Fate, "Is the collective memory of Merlin's magical and Muggle knowledge." Seeing Harry and Sirius's rather apprehensive faces, he hastily continued, "I understand that the Muggle knowledge might be outdated, but considering his time period that he came from – the 900s – it was a turbulent time and violent one." There was a distinctly Dumbledore-ish twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. "The Devil will appreciate the bloody creativity you might use when you consider Merlin's knowledge."

Harry made a soundless "oooh," and nodded. At Fate's urging, he stuck it in his mouth, and chewed.

Fate held out the glowing ball of magic (and ripped off the tag with '30' stamped on it) and placed it in Harry's hand. "Hold it in front of your chest and accept it."

Confused, Harry did as he was told and watched in awe as the cantaloupe-sized ball of magic vibrated slightly and was sucked into his body with a whoosh.

Sirius was staring agape at his godson, and both were ignoring Fate.

Fate, on the other hand, rummaged through a cardboard box on the floor and went "ah-ha!"

"Ah-ha what?" asked Sirius, curious.

"In case your completely useless wizard government decides to label you the next Dark Lord after delivering Voldemort's soul to the Devil, you will have a failsafe."

"What's the failsafe?"

"The failsafe will be with you from the moment you arrive back in your own world, Harry," explained Fate, smiling and creating tiny wrinkles around his mouth and eyes. "I am sending you Suzaku, a phoenix."

"A phoenix?" breathed Harry in awe.

"Yes," nodded Fate, "a phoenix. He's very red, as most phoenixes are, but Suzaku is a bit different… well, you've seen Fawkes, of course?"

Harry and Sirius nodded.

"Suzaku is… larger."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Oh."


Back in the Devil's office, Harry and Sirius stood side-by-side. God and the Devil stood behind her desk, while Fate was still in his office.

"Do you think I can do this?" asked a worried Harry, biting his lower lip.

God smiled and nodded. "You were meant to do it. I've always believed in you, Harry Potter. Now believe in yourself."

Harry smiled and hesitantly held out his hand, for God to shake. The black man only smiled, and stepped forward, embracing the young wizard instead.

"You'll do well. Remember yourself, who you are, your past, who your friends are, and believe. As long as you believe in yourself, you will not stray from your path," whispered God into his ear.

Harry, thankful for the advice, smiled and nodded. He then turned to the Devil.

She smiled, and said, "Well, I've grown a bit fond of you, Harry. I do think you'd like it here in Hell, if you'd give it a chance."

"No thanks, but I appreciate the offer," replied Harry.

"Ha!" the Devil laughed. "That's a lie, but you did it to please a woman. I'm flattered. You take care of yourself, Harry, and have fun!" she leaned forward and kissed his cheeks. Before she pulled away, she whispered so lowly he had to concentrate, "I'll be seeing you from time to time. Watch out for me. I'm here to help."

Once she was back behind her desk, God looked at Sirius and Harry and said, "Good luck."

Then, everything was painted black.


AN: Dec.08.6 A Plot Bunny that refused to die; all other stories are being worked on, and an update for Wyckham should be soon. This is to tide you over until then.
A note on God/Devil, etc: I'm not really religious. I never studied it and I never was interested to learn about it at all. However, I am NOT trying to downplay or say that God or the Devil don't exist... whatever someone wants to believe is their own opinion and I won't stand in the way of that. I do not want people to say (because I'm making the Devil a sexy woman or God a deity who makes mistakes too) that I'm making fun of their religion. I'm not, and I'm sorry if it comes across that way. I figured if Goethe can get away with it and have it be a classic, then so can I in the purpose of entertainment.
PS: Trivia: when I first considered this, it wasn't Harry who'd be the main protagonist, it was Ron!