Welcome, Death

Disclaimer: I don't own this series or any other series. I am just floating an idea. I am making no money, nor plan to, off this venture. If you think of suing me over this, then grow up.

Albus Dumbledore leaned back into his seat, trying to relax his stressed mind. The Tri-Wizard tournament was done, but … Voldemort had returned.

Needless to say, more chaos had been left in his wake. A young man, dead. Harry, tortured, and barely able to escape back to Hogwarts. The Ministry—and especially, the Minister and his 'advisors'—doing all they could to hide Voldemort's resurrection.

Alas, there was at least some good news—if only just barely. If his theories were correct, then by using Harry's blood, Tom may have tied Harry to this world as well, in a way, turning himself into a bastardized horcrux for Harry, as Harry was for him. It was this fact that gave him some hope, as with the prophecy, it might just allow Harry to survive this coming war.

"But still, how much more to do to end it?" he mused to himself.

"An important question."

Eyes going wide and reflexes honed from years kicking in, the Elder Wand snapped to his hand, pointing at the source of the voice.

Said source was leaning into the chair before his desk, apparently unconcerned with his situation. Blue eyes stared back into blue, but with no hint of emotion. In fact, to Albus, it looked like he was staring into a calm sea; a sea he felt was just as quickly and temperamental as the real waters.

He fought the urge to try and peer into the new person's mind, if for no other reason than that they had entered his office unseen by his wards, let alone the school, and most of all: him. "Who are you?" he asked.

"Also an important question," the figure replied, blue eyes moving over to the wand in Dumbledore's hand. "One that will be answered in a moment.

"I must say though, you've had that longer than most. Perhaps you are a bit wiser than many of its previous owners."

Turning his eyes back to Albus's own shocked eyes, a smile formed on his lips. "Or perhaps, more foolish… I guess only time shall define which is true and by how much."

"You know what this wand is?" Albus asked in a hoarse whisper.

"I was there when it was made."

The wand went limp in his hand for a moment, before Albus brought it up to bear once more, eyes now more focused in wariness than shock and surprise. "I ask again, who are you?"

"Someone who heard about the silent inquiries you have made into the realm of something best left alone," the figure said, standing up and wandering around the office, taking a moment here and there to examine a book, a trinket, even a painting as they moved.

"It would appear I was not careful enough then," Albus spoke, playing along. He doubted this person was Death—or perhaps one of the brothers who remained alive somehow. But until he knew more, he knew it would be folly to act rashly.

"No, just careful enough," the figure commented. "Nick came to me, a bit worried about why you might be searching for information on such things."

Albus blinked again. "Nicolas brought you in?" he asked. "I thought they had moved on."

"Do you really think the creators of that stone could not make more?" the figure asked with a light chuckle. "No; they use it to stay alive … and to make the most perfect tea I have ever sampled.

"But they know many dark secrets of the world," the figure continued on. "And they know the ones who have even more."

Albus slowly nodded.

"So, what business do you have with horcruxes … horcruxi … soul containers?" the figure stated.

"I never said I had such," Albus stated with his usual smile.

The blue eyes focused on him again, the calm seas slightly unsettled. "I see you still aren't ready to talk.

"Odd, I figured you would want to, but it appears I was mistaken."

Walking up to his desk, the figure placed one finger in the air, and began to draw a line of … darkness. First one line, then he stopped, changing directions, and then again … and again.

Albus's eyes went wide, as the floating lines formed a symbol of the Deathly Hallows.

"Perhaps Nick can talk some sense into you, before your foolishness costs the innocent more," the figure responded, as he turned towards the open window. "He will know how to contact me again."

Albus stared at the figure … that then went to the window and jumped.

Rushing from his desk, he peered out into the night, trying to find who had managed to break into his office in such a unique way, with such unique lines … and saw … nothing.

He waved his wand about, casting spells to see if he could locate them, if they had perhaps hidden themselves—be it in spell or shadow.

Blinking at the results, he turned about, casting them again in the office … and still found nothing.

Not even the still floating symbol of the Hallows registered to his spells.

"Just who have you brought into this web, Nicolas?" he muttered.

Across from him sat his old friends: his former mentor and his wife. "I thought you had both passed on."

"And we thought you were smart enough not to make such stupid traps," Perenelle spoke.

"We thought it best to remove such temptations from those who might seek it out," Nicolas responded, although if he was referring to Albus or Voldemort, he did not know.

"And you thought I needed a visit from a friend of yours last night?"

The couple blinked, before Perenelle palmed her face. "You actually called Him?" she asked her husband.

"There is no better expect in the area," Nicolas responded.

"And none more temperamental about them," she countered. "And you know he would have some reaction to the wand Albus uses."

Albus just sighed. "I had hoped my possession of the Elder Wand was a better secret than that."

"You think it is the first time we have seen that wand?" Perenelle asked. "Do you think Nick would not have wanted to search out that legend?"

"… Who was that man?" Albus asked. "I assume it was a man, as you referred to them as a 'Him'," he spoke.

"His story to tell," Nicolas stated.

"He said he was there when the Elder Wand was created."

The two sat in silence.

"He said I might have been foolish in our discussion."

The two snorted.

"I am afraid, Albus," Nicolas spoke, "that in conversations with this man, you do not want to spend your time, talking the way you usually do.

"He is not a politician, or someone who enjoys beating around the bush, as it were.

"No, if you want to speak to him, directness and honesty are your best options.

"Half-truths, misdirections, and lies will only anger them."

Albus paused in his thoughts, going over their conversation. True, the man had been completely forthright in his speaking.

And when pressed, Albus had merely attempted to misdirect him, as had become his habit with students and the wolves of government.

"I warn you right now, young man," Perenelle spoke, standing up and preparing a tea set, "do not do so to him again.

"The fact he was willing to meet you at all, to interfere in your little spat, is more than we expected of him."

"I hardly call Voldemort's return a 'little spat'," Albus spoke.

"The non-magical have had wars much more intense with higher death tolls than what your home has had," Nicolas spoke. "You think there is equality to your fights with that fool, and the death and destruction wrought by the fools Gellert hung with?"

"Loss of the innocent is always a great loss," Albus spoke.

Nicolas's eyes hardened. "There is a difference between those who die, not bothering to fight back at all and those who…" he droned off, rubbing his forehead. "Even now, Albus, your government is denying the problem.

"And when it comes out, will they all rise up? Will they fight against this evil?

"No," Nicolas shook his head. "They will expect you to do it, or the Potter child, or some other savior to rise up.

"The difference, Albus, is that they will expend the minimum effort to survive, and expect others to do the work."

"They have already lost so much in the last war."

"And there are those who lost much more," Perenelle said, as she sat the tea set on the table between them. "And tell me, did they fight to their utmost then? Will they fight to their utmost now?

"Or will they once again pretend it isn't their fight, laze about, and demand someone else save them?"

Albus said nothing, knowing the truth of their words.

So, he sat silently, watching as they poured out the tea into four cups, before Nicolas reached inside his robes, and withdrew the very stone Albus had thought had been guarded in his school.

"The one I had?" he asked.

"A fake," Nicolas spoke, as he held the stone over the fourth cup, and sent whatever it was he needed to do, into it. A trickle of what he would guess was the Elixir of Life came forth, pouring into the cup, which he then placed before the empty seat next to them.

"Honestly, that fool," Perenelle muttered, setting out the remaining cups and service set. "Even if the one he planned to steal was the real one, how did he plan to make it work?"

"Ego, I believe, that he would figure it out," Albus replied.

"Youth today," Nicolas responded, adding a bit of lemon to his tea. "No common sense, even worse amongst the magical."

"Is he here already?" Albus asked, eyeing the fourth placement.

Nicolas shook his head, as he held up a finger … and began to draw the symbol in the air. "He is probably nearby, but we still need to call him."

Nodding in silence, Albus waited, not even picking up his tea until their guest arrived. "Is there any other warnings I need to be made aware of?"

"Don't insult his intelligence, do not draw your wand on him in anger or hatred, and don't think for a moment you can make demands of him," Perenelle stated. "If he wants to help, let him; do not force him to follow your ideas of what and how things should be done.

"He's far too old for that sort of nonsense."


Albus kept his amazement and shock to a minimum, not even jumping in his seat, as he turned, spotting the figure now in the formerly unoccupied fourth seat, sipping the tea that had been laced with the Elixir. "As fine as always, Madam," the figure stating, raising his cup to Perenelle.

"Thank you," Perenelle said demurely.

Taking another sip, the figure set the cup down, before focusing on Albus. "So, shall we be open?"

"Yes," Albus said. "Forgive this old man for falling into habits. I fear I have become so used to dealing with children and politicians, keeping secrets and all, I do so automatically now.

"Forgive me if I fall into such now."

The figure stared at him for a moment—a moment Albus was sure he felt as if his very soul was being weighed, before they nodded. "Agreed. I shall tell you if you fall into that pattern again today.

"Ask your questions."

Albus nodded. "I ask … who are you? You claim to have been there at the creation of the Elder Wand, but … I cannot believe you to be any of the Peverell brothers, nor can I at this time believe you are Death.

"So, my first question is—assuming I do not have a limit I might ask—is … who are you?"

The figure turned towards the Flamels.

"We told him nothing," Nicolas stated. "It is your tale to tell."

Nodding, the figure turned towards Dumbledore. "Every legend has a kernel of truth to it. How large that kernel is, depends on how the tale was first told.

"My tale is mixed with this … fable, so let me speak completely, before you ask anymore."

Albus nodded, as the figure took another sip of tea, almost as if he was gathering the courage to speak, before he did so.

Leaning in the chair, they stared at the ceiling for a moment. "You could say I was a traveler, trying to find my way home.

"This world, it looks like mine, but is not my Earth. There is an infinite amount out there, universes beyond any comprehension. But trying to find one specific blade of grass in an endless field, or one page in a book with countless is all but impossible.

"But in my travels, I was … I guess you could say ... pulled here, by a pair of brothers who were experimenting with things they should not have.

"Whether I was their intended target or a happy byproduct, I cannot say.

"But arrive I did.

"At first, they were kind, willing to help this stranger out, even bringing in their brother to help me adjust," he spoke, almost whimsically. "We shared knowledge, ideas, thoughts…

"In fact, for a moment, I had found a sort of peace upon this Earth.

"But then," he continued, his voice becoming hard, "they decided to … use me—not as an aid—but as a subject."

Taking a calming breath, he finished off his tea, even as Nicolas and Perenelle refilled it for him.

"You see, they wished to go beyond what was known, and seek that which had been forgotten.

"But if it isn't written down, if the spoken word is corrupted, or lost to time, how do you find such things, who would remember such things?"

"… The dead," Albus spoke softly.

The figure nodded. "They had a theory, that as beings of this world, death would be something … intangible to them, something they'd never be able to grasp, even with the knowledge of life and existence I had shared with them.

"But then … I was not from this world."

Albus paled at that implication. "My God…"

"No God or deity helped me," the figure spat. "Those two, they experimented on me, violated my very being and soul, all for knowledge they felt they should have, that was theirs by some self-defined right!

"They sought to bridge the divide … and finally, pulled death from me."

Albus stared at the person before him. He knew of the legend, what three brothers the man was talking about: Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus.

But to have the legend be so far from the truth… To have done such to a visitor, someone they had befriended.

"I believe you have seen what they pulled from me," the figure said quietly. "It lies within your Ministry, deep within your department for studying such mysteries."

It took Albus a moment to realize the figure was waiting for him to answer, so he thought to what he had seen in the Department of Mysteries, what item might be related to… "You mean the Veil?" he asked.

The figure nodded. "Something they could not pull out of the beings of this world—I know because they often spoke of their failures and the amount of wasted times.

"To this day, I do not know how many died because of their desire."

Albus nodded. "But the Veil is so large, how did it…"

"The Veil is meant to be immaterial, lying inside the soul," the figure spoke. "When you pass, the Veil is the path the soul takes to the Land of the Dead.

"That is why those who get close to it hear the voices of those they love," the figure continued. "It is meant to draw you in, make you want to leave this world, and not hang about this world."

Albus nodded, knowing those voices well. He had been there once, and only once. Much like the Mirror of Esired, such temptations were best avoided.

So, that is why the notes I have found referred to the Resurrection Stone as Cadmus's second attempt, he thought.

His eyes went wide at that, focusing once more on the being across from him. "It didn't end there," he stated, not asking it as a question.

The figure nodded, sipping his tea. "It wasn't enough, as you know. The Veil is meant only as a one-way gate. You cannot ask those on the other side for their knowledge, for anything.

"Hell, the voices might not even be real," they responded, leaning back. "The Veil is part of your soul, so the voices might simply be … a psychic reaction to those nearby. No two hear the same voices when they are near it, and only those who have come to know their own mortality can view it, touch it, and be tempted by it.

"Otherwise, they can walk around it, through it, and not be seen by it.

"But if you know Death waits, know that your mortal coil will one day expire … then it reveals itself to you, and walk through it again knowing this … you are taken to what lies beyond."

Albus nodded. Those accounts were well documented by the Unspeakables. "And why it cannot be destroyed."

"The Veil exists in all life," the figure continued. "Perhaps it could be by someone from my world, but here…

"No, it cannot be destroyed, cannot be returned to my soul. I have spent a long time trying."

"He even asked for our help, when my stone had slipped into public knowledge," Nicolas spoke. "Trust me when I say this, Albus: that Veil is not something we mere mortals can destroy."

"But you can damage it," the figure spoke.

Albus waited a moment, letting that knowledge percolate in his mind. "The Hallows."

The figure nodded. "The cloak, cut from the curtain that covers what lies beyond.

"The stone, cut from the very Gate itself.

"And the Wand, I am not so sure of myself," he continued. "But I suspect whatever its core is, is not merely a thestral hair. It may be soaked in my blood, or maybe they held onto its tail as they shoved it through the Veil.

"But even that secret remains closed to me."

Albus nodded sadly. He knew the history of the Hallows was shadowed in blood.

He had no idea that the shadow had been so large, or so deep.

"I am not the cause of the curse upon those items, if you wonder," the figure spoke. "Antioch was as much a braggart then as when he died. A wand made powerful by magic of two worlds, tapping into that which was not meant to be…

"Human greed took care of him, and all those who held the wand and proclaimed such. Only those like you, who have secreted it away, or hidden its true nature, have held it so long.

"I learned that even though Cadmus was married and had children, his obsession with his first love was all his own doing … and eventual undoing. I can but guarantee that the monster I knew would not have allowed their relationship to flourish with the woman he first pursued or the one he was wedded to, and I fear if he had lived, what sort of monster his offspring would have become due to his presence."

"… And the Cloak?" Albus asked, knowing it was a question he had been asked to hold, but felt he needed to prod the conversation forward.

"Ignotus found me after those items had been created, got me from his brothers, taking the cloak with us," the figure mused. "If nothing else, Albus; know that he—and he alone of those three—was a good man. He had no knowledge of the perversions his brothers dabbled in, and had been the first to try and help me heal, recover, and move on.

"I had no need for revenge, either. Fate … and human ego took those from me."

"You kept their notes," Albus stated. "You and Ignotus, to try and return the Veil to you."

The figure nodded. "The knowledge of that, of what his brothers had done, he took to his grave. He wanted none to know, none to try and continue on in that line of research, of inhumanity."

Nodding, Albus focused on his mentor. "That was why you sought him out when I inquired about horcruxes."

Nicolas nodded. "I know what I do from him, he would know more."

"So tell me, Albus Dumbledore, why do you seek such forbidden and dangerous information?" the figure asked.

"I do not seek to create them, if that is your fear," Albus responded.

"But you fear another has, this … Voldemort?" the figure asked.

"Yes," Albus responded. "One I know of for certain, that was destroyed two years ago, placed within his school diary." Reaching into his robes, he pulled the damaged tome out, setting it on the table.

The figure picked it up, examining it. "… Yes, this was one, destroyed by basilisk venom, if my nose doesn't lie."

"You have experience with such a corrosive venom?" Albus asked.

The figure nodded. "My Death was stolen from me, Albus. I have tried many ways to return it."

His eyes went wide, understanding now. How he knew the Three Brothers, how he knew Nicolas. "Without the Veil within your soul, you cannot die," he replied in a whisper.

The figure nodded. "Until it returns to me, I fear I shall outlive even this universe."

Albus nodded; glad that such knowledge had been forcibly lost to time. If such had been learned by any Dark Lord…

"Only then, might I even be able to leave here," the figure continued. "For while the Veil and I are not one, I cannot leave this universe to search again.

"They trapped me here."

Albus nodded sadly. To be lost from your home was one thing.

To never be allowed to even try and find it; barred from moving on, perhaps seeing those you have lost again…

"But I sense you have more to tell than just about a book," the figure spoke, drawing Albus away from any attempt to contemplate the figure's lot in life … or even express pity at it.

Albus nodded. "I suspect—no—I know he had made more. The Dark Mark on his followers still exist, I know it to be tied to his magic. Even faded, it still remains, meaning he is still tied to our world through more of those abominations."

The figure nodded. "If we had more and this one still intact, we might be able to locate others through sympathetic spells.

"Do you have any idea how many he created?"

Albus shook his head. "I am pursuing a possible line to what he might have tried, but I cannot guess at the moment how many. I do know he barely looked human towards the end of his first reign."

At the look of confusion on the figure's face, he continued. "What knowledge I did find on them say making multiple ones seems to shave away your humanity, your sanity."

"It is not the creation of such that does it," the figure spoke. "The soul is a complex entity, living in its own unique way.

"But like any living thing, it … sheds pieces of itself naturally. You notice this when you walk into places someone has spent a lot of time in, invested themselves in, so much so that those shed pieces have attached to the room; not as a horcrux, more like the ghosts you are familiar with, more an imprint than anything else.

"While the process of creating a horcrux does tear apart the soul, it will heal in time, back to its fully formed self.

"If your Dark Lord looked less than human, less sane than he should be, it is likely the cost of anything 'additional' he did to enhance himself."

Albus nodded. "And have you ever heard of a living entity being used as one?"

The figure's eyes focused on him within a moment, glaring at Albus. "Explain." It wasn't said as a question, but an order.

And he had to admit, Albus felt beyond compelled to answer.

So, he told what he knew about Harry Potter, his scar, the protections Lily might have conferred upon him, and Harry's experiences with such, and finally the prophecy.

The figure looked up to the ceiling … and let out a light chuckle.

"You always had a desire to find good within all, Iggy," the figure spoke.

"You believe Lily found some notes from Ignotus?" asked Albus.

The figure nodded. "He always wanted some good to come from happened to me, from what happened to the others his brothers tortured, murdered.

"I suspect she found some notes of the self-sacrifice of a soul," the figure spoke. "The events that happened … that somehow you know but others do not," he paused, looking at Albus to say such would also be revealed, "they offered their all to protect him, they used the power to save an innocent.

"Iggy would have been proud that such could come from that evil."

"I fear those notes she may have used are gone, destroyed or taken from the Potter Cottage that night."

"Another mystery I may pass my time with," the figure nodded.

"But it would explain why the scar has had limited success taking over the young man," the figure mused. "The two are opposite ends of the spectrum, each one cancelling the other out.

"But it won't last forever," the figure said sadly. "The protections will run out at some point, or weaken, and the horcrux will continue to strike."

"And the way Voldemort resurrected himself?" Albus asked.

"It will make an anchor for Harry, as the target of his mother's protections," the figure spoke. "As such, if Voldemort fires a spell at Harry, one intended to kill … the duality should cause those spells to target the horcrux first. As his body now contains the protections, it will infect his magic.

"No matter his desire, the magic will go to protect Harry first and foremost. He may touch the child now, his magic may not."

Albus nodded with relief. In a way, it meant that as long of Tom tried to kill Harry with the Killing Curse, the child would survive again.

But… "Sadly this leaves me to try and ensure Tom uses such a blow upon Harry."

The figure nodded. "Physical attacks will get through, only magic will curve towards the horcrux, the only part not protected by the protections.

"And who is Tom?"

"The Dark Lord's original name," Perenelle spat. "Tom Marvolo Riddle, and for some reason, came up with a bastardized French word for his name."

"An anagram," Albus offered. "Harry spoke with the partial manifestation of Tom from the diary, who explained it." Taking out his original wand—he didn't want to show the figure something like the Elder Wand after such a story, Albus created the same fire letters Tom had shown Harry, and had them rearrange into 'I am Lord Voldemort'.

Leaning back in his chair, the figure stared at the ceiling, contemplating things he had learned. "I should at least look the Potter child over, see what I can do to perhaps strengthen those protections, maybe see how tied into him the horcrux is…

"Have you told him?"

Albus shook his head. "As he is now, Harry would run off to die.

"I'd rather he had something to truly live for, not desire death to simply end his pain."

The figure stared at Albus for a moment—a moment Albus could have sworn felt like an eternity, before looking back at the ceiling.

"I don't like getting involved in the mortal world like this," they spoke. "those with an end, they are the ones who change the world the most, make life … amazing.

"Those like me, we should be mere ghosts, looking on, offering tidbits and candy when we meet people who are truly … fantastic and amazing."

"Oh hush," Perenelle said, looking at him. "You simply don't wish to open your heart to people you know you will outlast."

"And now I am getting advice from youngsters," the figure joked, before nodding. "Perhaps it is time I step out of the shadows … if only for a bit."

"Got too set in your ways, Old Man," Nicolas joked.

The figure laughed again … and Albus could plainly hear … joy within it. "Very well then.

"Albus Dumbledore, will you take me to young Harry Potter, so that I might begin this … new task before me?"

"I would be honored," Albus spoke, standing up, before pausing.

Nodding his head after taking a deep breath, he reached into his robes and pulled out the Elder Wand, offering it to the figure. "I believe this belongs to you more than me."

"… Not so foolish then," the figure spoke, before shaking his head. "Keep it. I had all three at one point, I will have all three again at some point, multiple times I suspect, but they cannot at this time be returned to the Veil. They aren't even taken by it if you toss them through.

"No, you have need of it. I only hope it finds its next owner to be brighter than many of its former ones.

"Perenelle, Nicolas, thank you as always for the tea and an enlightening evening."

"It is our pleasure," Nicolas said.

"Do visit more often than when my husband tries that stupid summons of yours," Perenelle spoke.

Chuckling lightly, the figure hugged both of them, before turning to Albus. "Do summon your phoenix.

"I have no desire to see if being side-along apparited is capable for someone like me."

Nodding with a smile, Albus raised his hand to call his familiar … when he paused. "I have to ask, what shall I call you or refer to you as? I doubt I can continue to reference you as 'the mysterious figure beside me' when addressing people."

Smiling, the figure gave a mock-bow. "You may call me…"