Harry Potter and the Discworld
Disclaimer: If you recognise it, it isn't ours. We're just borrowing it to play around for a while. Harry Potter and associated characters/locations etc are the property of J.K. Rowling, Discworld and associated characters/locations etc are the property of Terry Pratchett.
Summary: When Harry Potter miraculously survives the Killing Curse, he attracts the attention and curiosity of Death. As a result, the barriers separating the Roundworld and the Discworld begin to break down, leading to more danger than Harry could ever have imagined…
Chapter 1: Harry and Death
Harry James Potter looked up at the mobile above his head, gurgling in delight at the miniature Quidditch match playing out above him. His father, James, tapped the mobile with his wand, speeding it up, and laughed at the way his little son's eyes revolved. On the other side of the room, his wife, Lily, looked up from the clothes she was folding and frowned playfully at him.
"James, don't torment him. You know that you'll regret it…"
He turned to her, his eyes sparkling mischievously. "What's he going to do? He's only one year old Lil!"
"Well, just remember what he did to Sirius."
James blanched. "True… But that was – that was… very… stressful for him." He looked down at his son. "Actually – fancy a drink? I'll just – I'll just head downstairs. You know, before anything happens…" He hurried from the room in a purposeful manner that was in no respect a retreat from the possibility of accidental magic. Lily's laughter followed him down the stairs, and he grinned.
Having brewed himself a coffee, he sat down in front of the fire, spreading the Daily Prophet in front of him. Although he deplored the lack of journalistic integrity, the habitual inaccuracies and the shameless bias, he accepted that this was part and parcel of reading a government sponsored newspaper. It was a secret ambition of his to found an independent paper, one that would answer only to the truth. Maybe after the war…
After a while, Lily came down the stairs. She strode into the lounge, her hands on her hips and her hair frizzed out, bright, platinum yellow. She did not look happy. With an effort, James swallowed a laugh. There was a heavy silence while he struggled to master his facial expression, and Lily looked at him dangerously, tapping her foot. Eventually, James cleared his throat.
"Erm… Something wrong dear?"
Lily scowled. "If you're going to work him up like that, you might have the decency to stick around for the consequences…"
James gave her his best puppy-dog expression. "Sorry dear, I didn't realise that would happen. You, er – you look lovely."
Lily's scowl deepened. She drew her wand, and swished it precisely. Her hair twitched, changed back to its normal colour, and settled back into shape. James sniggered, and she swished her wand again. A cushion zipped across the room, and smacked him in the face. He dissolved into laughter, and eventually Lily started to chuckle along ruefully. She flopped into a seat, smiling at him.
"I suppose we ought to be proud really. So strong already."
James grinned at her. "Damn right. He'll be a hell of a wizard when he grows up." His eyes began to gleam in a very familiar manner, and he stood up. He pulled her out of the seat, his grin spreading. "So… What do you want to do this evening Mrs Potter?"
Lily tilted her head back, pretending to think. "Well… Harry's asleep…" She ran her fingers up and down his arm playfully. "What do you fancy?"
James smirked, and leaned in to kiss her. And then Harry started to cry. Lily dropped her head onto James' shoulder with a wistful sigh.
"Oh well. Better go and see what he wants. Don't go anywhere…" She hurried out of the room, and James began to clear up, grinning to himself.
There was a knock at the door.
He looked up, puzzled. Who the hell would be knocking on their door at this time of night? He walked to the door, not even bothering to pick up his wand – a decision he would very soon regret.
"James? Who is it?"
The door blew off its hinges.
The war memorial in the village square looked rather out of place given the garish decorations. The square was positively covered in gruesome pumpkins, rubber bats, and other such traditional items. Costumed children sprinted around, buzzed up on sweets, their harassed parents desperately trying to keep up. There was a slight lull in the festivities as a dreadful figure loomed out of the autumn mist.
He was tall and pale, with red eyes. His skin looked disturbingly like scales, where it wasn't covered with a flowing, silvery-grey robe. He looked around him balefully, disgusted by the decorations. Actually, on closer inspection, they looked like a low-rent version of the Hogwarts Halloween feast, which he had always enjoyed. He glared at one of the children, who pointed at him.
"Nice costume, mister!"
The Dark Lord Voldemort clenched his fist, itching to draw his wand and slaughter them all. Revolting parasites… later, he told himself. Later; after he had destroyed his nemesis. He stalked out of the square, looking for the house Pettigrew had told him about, his robes billowing behind him. He reached the end of the street, and concentrated on the address. A house appeared, as if growing from the earth, light shining from its uncurtained windows. As he stared at the house, the dim sound of a small child screaming reached his ears. He smiled, humourlessly, and pushed the garden gate open. He knocked on the door. He saw someone appear through the frosted glass, and raised his wand. With a hiss, he blew the door off its hinges.
He strode through the smoke like a wraith, and bared his fangs as James Potter cried out to his wife. He stepped over the wreckage of the door, and raised his wand.
The jade green light flew like an arrow, striking Potter dead centre in the chest. He fell backwards, his last look of shock captured forever on his face, throwing his arms out. Voldemort stepped over his corpse and climbed the stairs. He followed the sound of crying to the back room, where Lily Potter was standing in front of the cot.
"Please, not Harry…" she begged him tears falling down her face.
"Stand aside you foolish girl!" he spat, aiming his wand at her.
"Get out of my way!"
"No – "
Just like her husband, Lily Potter fell to the floor with a shocked final expression, marred with tears. The baby's screams only grew louder, and he walked over to him, starting to laugh. He looked down at the small child, his red eyes meeting the dazzling green ones. Strange, that such an insignificant thing could ever be considered a threat. Still, he was not one to leave anything to chance. Again, he raised his wand.
The boy watched him intently in the moment before the curse killed him.
Except it didn't kill him.
The curse bounced.
Voldemort gaped – for the first time in his life – in astonishment as the unblockable curse bounced off the boy and sped back towards him. He didn't have time to scream before it blasted him in the face.
He felt his body crack, begin to crumble under the tearing energy. His bones shattered, one by one, incredibly quickly, and he felt himself being reduced to dust. In the second that it took for his body to be destroyed, the Lord Voldemort endured a lifetime of agony.
He screamed then.
There was a pulse of magical power, and the bedroom was destroyed, save for a circle around the cot that was clear of all damage. Indeed, the only sign that Harry had been attacked at all was the lightning bolt shaped scar etched on his forehead.
Harry's tearful cries cut the night air.
As the roof of the Potter's house was blown off, an altogether stranger sight could be seen in their back garden. A white horse, a powerful looking beast, had cantered to a halt some feet above the ground. Its rider was obscured by a robe so black it hurt the eyes to look at it. Suspended from the side of the horse was something like a lance, with no tip. There was also a bag, half open. Several hourglasses protruded from it, filled with trickling sand.
WOAH THERE. THERE'S A SATISFACTORY HORSE.
The words seemed to have a physical presence, echoing like slamming tombstones. The black-cowled figure dismounted, patting the horse's head.
WAIT HERE BINKY.
Taking the bag and the lance from the horse's saddle, the figure strode towards the house, and entered the kitchen without taking the time to open the door. He didn't need to. He stepped over James' body dispassionately, caring not for the sudden death. He ascended the stairs, and walked into the bedroom, following a shimmering blue tendril of life force. The walls were on fire, but that didn't bother him in the slightest. There were two fading spirits hovering there, clutching each other as best they could, and looking down at the cot that was miraculously unscathed. Blue tendrils connected them to their bodies.
JAMES AND LILY POTTER?
The spirits turned to him.
"Who the hell are you?" James demanded.
The black robed figure pushed his hood back, revealing a grinning skull and shining blue dots in his eye sockets.
"Or perhaps I should say: what are you?" James amended.
I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A WIZARD SUCH AS YOURSELF WOULD RECOGNISE ME, MR POTTER. IT IS, AFTER ALL, A TRADITION THAT I APPEAR IN PERSON FOR THOSE GIFTED IN THE MAGICAL ARTS.
"The Grim Reaper…" Lily tried to gasp, looking momentarily puzzled at the lack of breath.
PLEASE. CALL ME DEATH.
"Yes. Of course. I suppose you're here for us?"
AND TWO OTHERS, MR POTTER.
"Two? I wouldn't have thought Voldemort had enough of a soul left for you to collect after everything he's done! And… who would the second be?"
YOUR SON, MISTER POTTER. MY APOLOGIES.
The two spirits looked at each other. Their expressions were… curious. Had Death been capable of it, he would have frowned. He paced forward, and looked into the cot. The boy was alive. Screaming, obviously upset, but alive. Death reached into his bag, and pulled out two of the hourglasses. One glowed with a weird light, and he tapped it. Nothing happened. The other was perhaps stranger – none of the sand was moving.
THIS IS MOST EMBARRASSING. THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME IRREGULARITY…
Death concentrated, remembering what had happened. He had a poor memory, despite knowing everything that could or would happen. It was just so difficult narrowing it down to one memory. After a moment, he nodded.
THE CURSE WAS REFLECTED… THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. AND THIS DARK LORD SURVIVED AS WELL. He turned back to the Potters, who were both looking bewildered, although they seemed to be pleased about it. YOU DO REALISE THAT WHATEVER YOU HAVE DONE IS PLAYING HOB WITH MY SCHEDULE, DON'T YOU?
"We didn't do anything!" James protested. Lily tugged on his arm, frowning, and he nodded hastily. "Not that we wouldn't have done something if we'd known, but still…"
THEN HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOUR SON'S CONDITION?
"Well… There was a prophecy…" Lily explained.
It was at times like this that Death wished for glands. Not being able to feel emotion was a definite drawback. He imagined that being able to feel anger would be extremely cathartic.
A PROPHECY. I SEE. BUGGER.
"Erm…" James was looking curious. "I don't want to be rude, but I was under the impression that we had to choose to be ghosts. And, well, we haven't you see."
HMM? OH, SORRY… Death twisted the lance, and a glowing blue blade swung out of the tip. It was, in fact, a scythe. A single swing was all that was needed to sever both tendrils. James and Lily had time for one last shocked look of horror before their last link to that world disappeared for good. Death turned back to the baby in the cot.
THERE'S MORE THAN A PROPHECY GOING ON HERE…
He shrugged. There wasn't a lot he could do at the moment without going beyond the bounds of the duty. And it wasn't as if he didn't have other places to be. He gave the boy one last enquiring glance and turned away. He left the house, and remounted Binky. A moment later, it was as if he had never been there.
Later that evening – or, as it may have been, at the same time, or even earlier, time having little meaning in that dimension – Death brought Binky to a halt at the stables outside his house. The building was not an attractive or homely one, although it did have a certain mystique about it. This was perhaps due to the totally black décor, or the ever-present skull motif, that would have seemed clichéd were it not for the appropriateness of the design.
Death walked into the hall of his house, the bones of his feet clicking against the black tiles. The hall seemed to stretch away into infinity, despite the house appearing to have normal dimensions from the outside. He carefully placed the scythe, the blade now folded away, into the umbrella stand by the grandfather clock, next to a sword that was reserved for special occasions. Distantly, there was the sound of fat sizzling in a frying pan. Death followed the sound to the kitchen.
Standing at the stove was his servant, Albert. Formerly known as Alberto Malich, he was both the greatest wizard and the worst cook of all time. He had made a deal with Death, agreeing to work for him for all eternity in order to avoid dying, on the basis that, to a wizard's enemies, death was not necessarily the ultimate barrier to revenge. At that moment, he was frying his breakfast. Albert fried everything, even porridge. As Death did not eat, except on very rare occasions, this did not actually matter all that much. To be honest, Albert's job consisted of acting as an occasional sounding board when Death wanted to think aloud, as well as making sure that 'the master' didn't have a lapse in concentration and wander off to, for instance, find out the true nature of humanity. Such lapses happened embarrassingly often. Death took a seat at the table, and Albert turned around.
"Welcome back sir; job go all right did it?"
MOSTLY. A FAMILY OF WIZARDS POSED SOMETHING OF A DIFFICULTY.
"Ah, well, wizards are like that aren't they? Tricky little buggers." Albert said, either not realising or choosing to ignore the irony of his statement.
YES… THERE WAS A PROPHECY INVOLVED.
"Greatest of respect master, but prophecies are a load of cobblers if you want my opinion. Nothing can be fixed like that – 'cept yourself of course sir, begging your pardon."
THINGS MAY BE DIFFERENT HERE ALBERT – THIS WAS NOT IN YOUR DIMENSION. OF COURSE, ANY INFORMATION YOU CAN PROVIDE IS WELCOMED.
Albert took a seat, peeling something black and crispy that might once have been a tomato from the frying pan and beginning to munch on it. He leaned back in his chair, looking mildly curious.
"Different how sir?"
THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOUR DEATHS; A MOTHER, FATHER, THEIR SON, AND A DARK WIZARD. ONLY THE PARENTS DIED – THE CURSE THAT SHOULD HAVE KILLED THE BOY WAS REFLECTED, SOMEHOW. AND THE DARK WIZARD SURVIVED IT AS WELL.
"How'd the parents die? Exceptional circumstances?"
THE MOTHER SACRIFICED HER LIFE FOR THE BOY. SHE REFUSED TO LET HIM BE KILLED.
Albert groaned in exasperation.
"You're kidding – they've still got magic like that? That's old magic that is, real old. Power of love, all that rubbish. Sounds like she created what's called a Carrick Tor shield – basically this spell that breaks all the laws of magic to ensure something important happens. Makes a mockery of everything wizarding stands for if you ask me… What about this other one, the dark wizard?"
HE TRIED TO KILL THE BOY, AND HIS SPELL BACKFIRED; IT DESTROYED HIS BODY, WHEREAS IT SHOULD – AS I UNDERSTAND IT – HAVE KILLED HIM WITHOUT EVEN LEAVING A MARK. AND THEN THERE'S THIS…
Death pulled out one of the hourglasses that he had taken to the Potter house. Inscribed on the bottom was Voldemort. The sand was frozen, unmoving. Albert stared at it curiously.
"Never seen that before, have you sir? What does it mean?"
IT MEANS THAT SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO HIS SOUL, SOMETHING THAT WOULD ALLOW HIM TO CHEAT DEATH.
Albert pulled a look of distaste.
"Well, that sounds like the bastard got himself a Horcrux."
"A Horcrux sir. You split your soul, tear a piece of it off and store it somewhere safe. Death means your soul passes on – so if it ain't intact, it can't die. And neither can you."
Given that he was a skeleton, Death was incapable of any expression other than a fixed grin. However, those who knew him could often tell what he was feeling by the level of glow from his eyes. Right now, Albert surmised, Death was distinctly unhappy.
SPLIT YOUR SOUL? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO MY JOB WHEN PEOPLE GO AROUND DOING DAMN SILLY THINGS LIKE THAT? DON'T THEY REALISE I HAVE A SCHEDULE TO KEEP?
"Recognised law of magic sir. Not a lot you can do about it to be honest."
I REALISE THAT, BUT IT'S STILL IMPOLITE.
"Yeah, well, dark wizards, what you going to do? Pretty much the rule isn't it? The brat though – he's fair game."
Death's eyes flickered.
YES… WE CAN'T HAVE PEOPLE GOING AROUND BREAKING THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE… IT'S JUST NOT PLAYING FAIR! IT MIGHT BE WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON HIM.
Albert leapt to his feet, backing away.
"Oh no sir, I can't do that – I haven't got enough time! I need to stay here!"
DON'T WORRY ALBERT – I HAD SOMEONE ELSE IN MIND…
Death snapped his fingers. After a moment, there came the sound of bones scurrying across the tiles and a tiny shape burst into the room. Closer inspection revealed a rat skeleton, in an identical robe to Death himself. The Death of Rats, a little fragment of Death himself, given a body after a slightly embarrassing incident a few years ago. The skeletal rat scurried up the table leg, and perched himself on the end of the frying pan handle. Death leaned down.
FIND THE BOY, AND FOLLOW HIM. I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO HIM.
SQUEAK! The Death of Rats tipped a salute with his scythe, and jumped from the table, vanishing in the blink of an eye.
Albus Dumbledore placed the bundle on the front doorstep of number 4, Privet Drive. He looked down at the sleeping baby in concern. He knew the boy would not have the easiest childhood – but he would be safe, at least. He pulled a note from his robes, placing it on the blanket, and walked back to the gate at the bottom of the path. As he reached it, he thought he heard something rustle in the bushes, and he whirled around.
He could see nothing, but where magic was concerned that didn't mean a thing. He raised his wand, whispering a spell, but it revealed nothing. The only thing he knew of that could hide someone from that spell was sitting in his office at Hogwarts – so there was no-one there. Nothing human, anyway.
"Must have been a rat…" he muttered. With one last glance at Harry, he restored light to the street with a click of the Deilluminator, and turned on the spot. He disappeared with a slight pop.
From the bushes by the door, the Death of Rats peeked out. Seeing that they were alone, he jumped out and climbed onto the bundle. He stared at Harry's face, examining the scar carefully. He let out a loud SQUEAK as Harry shifted in his sleep, trapping the skeletal rat under his arm. Try as he might, the little rat couldn't escape. Well, he could cut the boy's arm off with a single strike of his scythe, but that was probably not a wise move.
Several hours later – several hours which had seen the metaphorical life squashed out of the Death of Rats in various diverse positions – the front door opened. Someone screamed, and snatched the bundle indoors. The Death of Rats dropped from his perch, tumbling in mid-air, but managed to slip in before the door was slammed shut.
Things were about to get interesting.