Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Yu Yu Hakusho, suing me would be like kicking an impoverished student right in the wallet.
Summary: Harry dies in the final battle against Voldemort but he wasn't supposed to. Now Koenma offers him a second chance at life, but does he want it?
Pairings: Eventual Harry/Yuusuke, possible Hiei/Kurama... Very slight and confused past Harry/Ginny, if I can stomach it.
Warnings: Angst, lots of character death for the first few chapters, slash or shonen ai for later on.
AN: I spent ages on this story before I got round to the prologue. As it stands I've got more written up for future chapters than the starting ones... must resist urge to time-skip...
A Reason to Live: Prologue
January 15th 1998
He smiled softly at the pool, trailing one hand through the azure water as the images displayed there shifted at his touch. The smile became bitter-sweet as familiar faces formed in the water's depths.
A laughing red head, his painfully blue eyes alight with pleasure as he verbally sparred with a bushy haired brunette, his gangling form dwarfed her smaller one with an almost protective stance even as she scolded him. The slightest twitch of her lips betrayed her true feelings.
Hogwarts was beautiful at night. The glowing lights from the castle windows casting firefly-like shimmers upon the tranquil lake; The Giant Squid waved it's tentacles in tribute to the feast taking place in the great hall. Harry sat on the banks of the lake, waving back at the squid with a grin, getting fondly exasperated looks from the two teens at either side of him as he tossed the guardian pieces of bread and chicken. "That's your dinner, Harry!" The brunette chastised, "you're never going to grow if you don't eat-"
Those painfully blue eyes were looking straight at him, unwavering. "We can't beat You Kn-Voldemortfor you mate, but we can help you do what you have to do-"
"Don't think we'll let you do this alone, we're the Gryffindor Golden Trio, remember? The only thing that'll separate us is-"
Death. It permitted the very air with it's stench. Blood saturated the ground and leaked sluggishly into the lake, turning the edges sanguine with it's pigment. He left arm hung limp at his side, the muscle torn but the wound no longer gushing blood- healing charms weren't his forte but an incendio hex worked well enough to seal the wound, a potion took care of the pain. He needed to have his focus for this-
Battle was wearying He wanted it to end. Not a reprieve, not an intermission or another silence before the storm. He wanted it to end, so he could start rebuilding-
His world crumbled down around him. He was dead, after everything he had finally killed the bastard, shoved a hand through his chest, lacing his skin with every ounce of his magic, his pain and anguish and hopelessness, every drop of his life-force surged to the call of his memories. Painfully blue eyes shone out from under an over-grown russet fringe, all the more painful when glazed over in lifeless sight. Warm brown eyes were more surprised than scolding now, the feathery mane of a matching shade limp on the ground, spread out like a halo around her eerily pale face. They weren't coming back, no matter what he did they would never-
"-come back Harry-kun."
The reality playing out beneath his fingers flickered away in apologetic ripples. Harry blinked, surprised to find that his lashes disturbed moisture there. He wiped away the tears from his face in what he hoped wasn't an obvious gesture before turning to the person behind him.
"Oh, hey Botan, what's up?"
Rekai's head Ferry-girl wasn't her usual self today. True, her soul delivery count was as high as ever (she had a reputation to uphold after all) and her cheery smiles still blinded the ogres in the hallway, but she didn't feel like she was doing her job well enough. Her smiles felt painfully fake.
The object of her uncharacteristic depression was still in Purgatory, even though she had carried his soul over two weeks before. Purgatory was the bridge between Life and Death: a multi-tiered network of spider web walkways, connecting floating pools that showed the world below- both the past and the present. It was not a place a soul was meant to stay for any substantial length of time.
But Harry James Potter was an unusual case: his death had not been preordained, per say, but rather his possible death had been scheduled- along with the possible death of one Tom Marvolo Riddle. Botan bit her lip in thought, flying through the upper tiers of Purgatory with unhurried grace, her side saddled loop-the-loops half hearted and -by her standards- bordering on sloppy.
"They weren't both supposed to die," Botan muttered, shifting slightly to avoid one of the tier pillars- a thread thin support that wouldn't have held up anything in Ningenkai, well, nothing fully corporeal at least. The Reaper sighed "Stupid prophecies, if I had clearance I'd go give those silly Fates a piece of my mind, messing up their job like that- if I'd done something like that, King Enma would have my oar, but nooo, the Fates are above that- too stuck up to do their job properly is more like it..."
Caught up as she was in her not-so-internal rant, Botan at first didn't realise where she was heading- right towards the object of her discontentment. He was kneeling by one of the seeing pools, one that showed memories of a spirit's life, as opposed to the other kind that acted like a window to the world below. Botan knew from previous conversations that Harry had little reason to want to see the land of his birth -war-torn as it was- and few people he cared to watch over: all those most important to him had perished, either in the battle that had claimed his own life or one of the raids that had taken place before that. 'His parents died to defend him, his remaining family shunned him... then when he finally found a place to call home and people that understood him, he barely had time to cherish them before they were taken from him.' Botan slapped a smile in place of her frown, if there was one thing that Harry Potter hated more then anything, it was pity.
The Reaper alighted beside the teen's kneeling form, vanishing her oar out of habit. "Harry-kun, why, fancy seeing you here! Hope you don't mind me dropping by for a chat like this..."
Harry was unresponsive.
"Harry-kun? Are you alright?" Botan edged forward, concerned for her self appointed charge. "Harry-kun?" The eyes were all the indication Botan needed to make a diagnosis of Harry's condition, eyes that were ordinarily a startling green were dulled to a less fantastic shade and were unfocused. The pupils had disappeared.
'This is exactly the reason why souls aren't meant to stay in Purgatory for so long, how are we supposed to keep them safe when with every day that passes, they grow more attached to a reality they can never have again?'
Knowing that she would startle him if she shook him, Botan instead called out to deceased wizard softly, lacing her words with her own brand of Reaper magic so that they would be more effective.
"I know it's a lonely place you're in right now, but that doesn't mean you can give up. Listen to my voice and come back, Harry-kun."
The effect was almost instantaneous. The wizard gasped as the illusion shattered, his eyes regaining colour with every startled blink. When he surreptitiously wiped away tears, Botan knew that his pupils would have already shown themselves again. The danger of losing him completely had passed.
"Oh, hey Botan, what's up?" Despite the fact that the Reaper was terrible at detecting lies, even she could see that Harry's smile was terribly forced.
She tried to be nonchalant. "Oh, nothing much I suppose- same as usual really, I'm in my busy, busy, bee mode!" She waved her arms to emphasise and was rewarded with a smile a little less strained. "Anyway, I just popped by to see how you were doing-" 'wah, dangerous ground!' "- b, because I wanted to see if you wanted to come with me to the Palace! See a bit more of Reikai on the way.." 'Phew, nice save, Botan, last thing I want is for him to start getting defensive.'
Harry shrugged, "I don't really mind staying here, I've already seen the Palace anyway."
"Oh pish posh! That was a slap dash event before, you were rushed in and out before you even got to see the Gate of Judgement up close! This time will be much more fun- we can fly low over the river Styx and there's a really pretty patch of water lilies in one of the lakes near there, not to mention the Palace is absolutely spectacular when you get a chance to really take it in-"
Harry held up his hands in surrender, "okay, okay, you have me convinced, Botan, I'll come with you." His smile finally reached his eyes and Botan took a moment to appreciate just how handsome the genuine smile really was.
"Well okay-dokey then!" Botan said excitedly, materialising her oar with a flick of her wrist, a bouncy little hop later and she was seated on her bottom's perch of choice. "Come on slow poke, some of us have limited breaks you know!"
"Well, actually, Botan... I was wondering if I could drive this time?"
Koenma, Prince of Reikai and Overseer of souls sat in his plush leather chair (or 'throne' as he preferred to call it), ignoring stacks of paper work taller than himself (even in his teenage form), frantically trying to get his DVD player to work.
"Oh for the love of- I just want one episode, just one! How am I supposed to do my paperwork if I don't get my Sailor Moon fix!" (1) In a fit of frustration he threw the remote, satisfied when it made a distinctive 'clink' sound as it struck the glass of his dimensional screen- for all purposes looking to be nothing more than a garishly coloured, eye shaped television screen floating in the air.
"Well, I suppose there's no excuse now... I hate Mondays." The demi god picked up the bane of his existence and began the process of stamping the documents in front of him, a job that was better suited to a half trained chimp... or one of his less intelligent ogres.
As the Junior Lord of the Dead was just beginning to contemplate suicide -or at least a sugar binge- the automatic sliding doors of his office opened with a welcome 'swoosh' and his chief Grim Reaper bounced in in all her pink clad glory (her hair slightly more wind blown than usual), a less cheerful but ultimately more graceful companion following behind. "Ah, Botan!" Koenma exclaimed, not succeeding in the least to keep the thankful tone from his voice, "what brings you here?" What indeed brought the ferry girl here at such a time? It was a little known fact that if there was anyone you could rely on to keep to schedule in Reikai, it was Botan. Glancing at his clock Koenma noted that it was at least two hours before she was due to make her report for the day on the progress of soul ascension in her district.
"Lord Koenma sir? This is Harry Potter, the young man who acted as the second variable in the prophecy case from England." The blue haired spirit was evidently phrasing her words carefully, as though she was present at a particularly bloodthirsty 'diplomatic conference' in Makai... or she was trying to keep a friend from harm. Koenma took in the body language of his most trusted Reaper and concluded that the latter was more likely than the former- two hundred years of working together did help them a bit with their silent communication skills after all.
"Just the man I wanted to see," Koenma only partly lied- the dark haired teen was an intriguing individual but he was ashamed to admit that the existence of him had actually slipped the Demi God's mind, what with the usual hustle and bustle of the Palace and the added stress of hiring a new Spirit Detective. Koenma frowned in contemplation, perhaps it would have been better to save that position for Potter-san after all; despite his new employee's potential, he wasn't too sure if he was up to the job.'There may be a way to get around that botched up prophecy after all.' "Potter-san, are you aware of the employment of the new Spirit Detective, Urameshi Yuusuke?"
"Yes, Botan informed me of him and the circumstances of his 'employment'." The deceased wizard did not attempt to mask his disapproval with a friendly tone. Koenma wondered if his disapproval sprang from the fact that Yuusuke (a school-skipping street punk) was resurrected whilst the saviour of the Wizarding World still wandered purgatory, or whether the slight blackmail of said newly employed Spirit Detective was the reason for the wizard's ire.
"It was a difficult decision to make Potter-san, without the promise of a new defender for Earth, my father would have never authorised the boy's resurrection. Not only that but he actually has the potential to be a proficient Detective- with some more experience anyway. I plan to start him off with simple cases and work him up to something more difficult-"
The wizard chuckled lightly, evidently amused. "Somehow I don't think that you're going to be able to hold back every rogue demon and apparition wanting a crack at the new Spirit Detective, least of all the ones that are above Yuusuke's current ability level." He tilted his head back, viewing Koenma through charcoal lashes, his eyes glowed a chilling jade. "So, what does this kid have to do with me?"
Koenma tensed, trying not to shift under the weighted stare of the spirit before him. "I have a proposition for you, Potter-san. As you know, the gates of the afterlife have barred you entrance and as your body was destroyed upon your death, your transition into the world of the living would be far more complicated than Yuusuke's." He paused, fixing the young man in his amber gaze, for once plainly exhibiting the wisdom that seven hundred years of life had granted him. "As you have no choice but to remain in Reikai for the time being, I wish to offer you the position of secondary Spirit Detective and all the training and resources that the position would entail. While you hone your skills we will create you another body- an exact replica of the one you possessed before your untimely demise." The young God smiled around his power blue pacifier. "In fact, your new body will be even better than the one you had before you died, death heals all ailments after all."
Harry snorted, the short burst of laughter devoid of all vestiges of humour. "And why would I want to be a Spirit Detective- hell, why would I even want to live again? I have nothing left, no one to return to!" He clenched his fists, causing the knuckles stand out starkly white, even against the pale silver of the 'skin' he possessed in his spiritual form. "Every person I have ever loved is DEAD- most died right in front of me-" he choked "and I stayed alive, I kept fighting but for what?" His eyes flashed with unrestrained emotion, blazing through the tears he barely managed to rein in. "I'm always the one to go on, but I don't know why I keep surviving." He shuddered, wrapping his arms around himself, trying to ward against the cold that enveloped his twisting insides. "I never even got to see them, I survived too long, they passed beyond the Gate before I got to say goodbye."
"Oh, Harry-kun," Botan, tears in her own eyes rushed to comfort her new (but already very dear) friend, she wrapped him in the swathes of her silken sleeves and pulled his head to her shoulder, not caring in the least when the dam broke- his tears cascading down his cheeks to wet her kimono. He stumbled, his knees ready to give out beneath him- the only thing keeping him upright was sheer force of will. Botan just held him tighter, letting him lean on her as she whispered meaningless comforts.
"I- I have no reason...no purpose, I have no one left to protect or to care for from...before." He gave Botan the most saddening smile she had ever seen and she felt her heart clench- forgetting in that moment that she didn't posses a living heart.
"Harry-kun, you can't stay here forever. You need to leave, live and learn to enjoy life once again. It will hurt to go on w- without them but oh Gods, Harry, I- I promise you'll see them again- even if I have to tear those stupid gates down myself- I swear you'll join them for eternity and more and be happy!" He had become dear to her in the two weeks since his passing, finding his soul on the bloodied fields of Hogwarts, staring blankly at his scattered viscera had been as heartbreaking as anything she had seen in her time as a Grim Reaper. What hurt more was Harry's acceptance of his fate and the longing he had simply to die- to go beyond the Gate of the afterlife and never live again. But the Gate had barred his passage and not even Enma could get them to open for the wizard's spirit. Those soulless Fates were up to something again but Botan would be damned herself if she let them mes with the afterlife of one of her precious few friends. She hugged Harry tight and swore she would do everything within her power to restore his happiness.
Harry choked a laugh. "Somehow it's not hard to picture you knocking those gates down all by yourself, Botan...thank you." He pulled away from her to wipe away his tears then took a shuddering breath, steadying his resolve for what he was to commit to. "What the fuck, it's not like I've got much to lose." He shrugged, and though such a gesture is usually nonchalant, with Harry it seemed almost painful. He meet the Godling's gaze, his eyes a cold, unfeeling jade. "I accept your proposition, Koenma. I'll do your dirty work, I'll sully my soul and be a weapon again... just... please, give me a reason to live."
"He looks different from the last time I saw him, Botan. I thought time would help heal him but his stay in Purgatory seems to have made him worse than ever."
"He is beginning to accept his grief, sir. What you saw before was the martyr of the Wizarding World. Now it's just Harry-kun."
"I wouldn't be so sure, Botan."
"Have you read the reports on Potter-san, Botan?"
"Only the basic death records sir."
"I'll send you the files when you get back then."
"...Back from where sir?"
"Diagon Alley has recently opened for business again and, as much as I hate to admit it, the Japanese Wizards don't have anything on the intricacy of the British made artefacts. Here's the list."
"Is all this necessary, Koenma-sama?"
"I believe so. It may be the only way to keep him sane." (2)
(1):Apparently the makers of Yu Yu Hakusho and Sailor Moon got married (yeah, a pretty unlikely match considering the differences of their anime series) Koenma also dressed up as Tuxedo Mask for the Makai Tournament in the final season, I'm guessing Koenma is a pretty big a fan of the cutesy series.
(2): All will be made clear in time but not for a while yet, any guesses as to what Koenma and Botan are talking about will be much appreciated, I'd like to see how vague or transparent I'm being.
Anyone that wants to catch any updates for this series and others I have in the works go check out my livejournal which is listed as my homepage in my profile, I'll put partial chapters and ideas there before I post here.