On a Pale Broomstick
"Crucio!!" The evil wizard Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, You-Know-Who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, The Dark Lord, and somewhat disturbingly, Snookums (at least to Bellatrix Lestrange), was dishing out his usual punishment to his simpering servant, Peter Pettigrew, also known as That Rat, Wormtail, or 'You Friggin' Moron!'. He lifted the curse.
"Now Peter, do you think you can remember simple instructions next time?"
"Y-yes, Master." Even after the curse was lifted, Wormtail spasmed as if he was undergoing a seizure.
"See that you do. Dismissed!" As Peter backed out of his master's presence, Voldemort was muttering to himself. "If I've told That Friggin' Moron once, I've told him a hundred times, 'wheat germ on my yogurt, not All Bran!' Next thing you know, he'll be putting Grape Nuts on...or worse!" Spotting a junior Death Eater in the doorway, he motioned him to come in. "What is it?"
The JDE was seriously nervous. "Master, I've news about the raid on Harry Potter's home."
Voldemort cocked his head. "Let's see... Lucius was in charge of that, wasn't he?" At the JDE's frantic nod, he continued. "Is he either incapacitated or dead?"
"No Master," the lad started.
"That means that it must have gone pear shaped, seeing as Lucius sent you in here to inform me, rather than crowing about his success. He must think I am stupid. Lucius! Get your worthless ass in here!" He waved his hand, dismissing the JDE. Lucius Malfoy ran in, sliding to a stop in front of Voldemort on his knees, kissing the Dark Lord's robes.
Ignoring Malfoy's stammered apologies, Voldemort put his finger under Lucius' chin, almost seductively purring, "Look me in the eye, Lucius. Legilimens!" He tore through Malfoy's shields like they were bog paper, seeing what Lucius had experienced in a flash. He also saw something that Malfoy did not. As someone who had been on Death's schedule in 1981, he was able to see the physical manifestation of that Incarnation. Zane had made it a point to collect Voldemort's soul, planning to deliver him personally to Satan when it was his time. By using horcruxes, Riddle was able to cheat Death, the unseen presence both in Godric's Hollow and in the chamber where the Sorcerer's Stone was supposedly being protected. Zane was on hand the next year when Harry destroyed Riddle's Diary and first horcrux. A little known fact was that partial souls cannot enter either Heaven or Hell. Since the soul is indestructible, Death would be required to collect all of Riddle's soul pieces prior to sending them onto their destination. At the present time, that first shard of Riddle's soul was in a lockbox in Thanatos' manor in Purgatory awaiting the rest of his soul.
Voldemort gave a slight shiver at the sight of his only real mortal enemy, Death, then put it out of his mind. "So Lucius, you thought to send in another to take the punishment for your failure? Crucio!" After holding the curse for over a minute, (time flies when you're having fun) he released the quivering Pureblood. "I need to think about this, leave me," he said, dismissing Lucius. "Oh, and see that I am not disturbed."
These events rattled the Dark Lord. He had plucked the prophecy out of Potter's mind less than a day after the fiasco at the Ministry of Magic. This should have meant that only he could have killed Potter! He picked up a quill and began making some notes.
Parking Mortis at the curb, Harry jumped out and blew through the doors of the Leaky Cauldron like some avenging angel. No one noticed his passage other than an old hag who's eyes opened wide before her head dropped to the table with a loud 'thunk!'. He distractedly noticed her soul dropping out of her body on an unassisted journey to her destination. "Oops," he muttered. Just bad luck for her that he was passing by when it was her scheduled time. He was steaming over the fact that Satan had been making himself unavailable when Harry wanted to find and recover Sirius. He was beginning to believe that Parry was doing it on purpose, but for the life of him, he did not know why. As much as Parry had gone on about only having guilty souls in Hell!
As he made his way to his destination, guided by his instruments, people moved out of his way, never noticing him. He had just a few minutes before he was to collect whomever was at the end of this trip. The lights quit blinking as he stepped through the entrance of The Quibbler, the quirky weekly newspaper published by Odd Lovegood, Luna's father. Standing in the front office was Luna and Odd. They rose to greet him.
"Hello Thanatos," Odd said. "Don't see you, at least in person down here much. Business or pleasure?"
Before Harry could answer, Luna piped up. "Daddy, this is Harry Potter."
"The same Harry Potter who's obituary we have on the presses right now? I think we had better stop the presses and update the story. Shame really, we've made almost half a press run."
"Don't bother updating the story," Harry told them. "I am dead, at least as the world sees it. I should have died, but like so many other times, I Pottered it up and an innocent took my place. I am the new Thanatos."
"Oh my," Luna said. "And Zane was such a sweet guy. Then again, you are also. I'm sure if Zane wanted to be killed by anyone, he would have wanted it to be a nice person like you, Harry. So is one of us on your schedule, or is it merely a social call?"
"How can you be so bloody calm about this? And how do you recognize me?"
"Oh Harry, I would recognize you anywhere. But as far as being able to see and recognize Death, there could be a couple of reasons. The obvious one is that we are both about to die, making us clients. I would, however, offer another reason. Daddy and I are old friends with Thanatos. My mother was a random victim of one of the Unnamed One's plots when I was nine. She was a spell designer and one of the Horned One's imps was causing havoc in the area. He contaminated a container that my mother was using for storing pure magic, and the explosion killed her and hurt me. Zane collected Mum and got me to St. Mungo's. I would have died had he not gotten help for me. Since then he became a friend of the family. He also told us that Mum went to Heaven and has passed messages on to us from her."
"Well at least Zane can speak with your mum in Heaven now. I saw on the Purgatory News Channel the report when he entered Heaven. Quite the popular guy."
"Oh goodie!" Luna squealed. "He's with his Luna now. I know he missed her for quite a while. Knowing Death really takes the sting out of it. I am thinking that one of us must be your client, but I didn't know either of our souls were in balance."
"I'm not sure, but I did tell the Purgatory Computer to notify me when certain people were due to die, no matter what the condition of their soul. You are one of those people, Luna."
"Oh Harry, that's so nice of you! When do we go?"
"That's the thing, I don't know. I'm not sure which of you is my client, or how you are supposed to die. Just us interacting like this might have Pottered the whole thing up. I don't know for example, if you, Odd, are in balance, or if Luna is, or if it is because I asked to be notified. You may even be able to avoid dying right now. I mean, I don't see anything very dangerous around here. Do both of you feel all right? No chest pains or anything?"
Just as Odd was shaking his head, the door burst in and twin shouts of " Avada Kedavra!" were heard. Harry pushed Luna out of the way and stuck his scythe in front of Odd, deflecting the curse heading toward Luna's father. The other curse hit Harry directly on the forehead. Harry fell down, feeling like he had been kicked in the head. A greenish black vapor came out of his forehead, coalescing into a torn object looking somewhat like a piece of soul. Not knowing what it was, but sensing it to be important, Harry's hand shot out and captured it, placing it in his bag. Suddenly the scene froze.
"Good Heaven, kid, is there anything that you can't screw up?" a familiar voice asked. Harry turned to see Lachesis standing there with another man carrying an hourglass. This could only be Chronos. "I told you, your job is to collect the souls, not kill the containers, or save them! I had to call in a favor from Chronos here to stop this before you knot my tapestry up beyond repair! Your deflected curse ricocheted back and hit the Death Eater who sent it, killing him before his time. That and you have stopped two people from dying on schedule. Now Chronos is going to turn back time and you are going to step out of the way and DO YOUR JOB!"
"Like Hell I will!" Roared Harry.
"You called?" a new voice piped up.
"YOU?!" Lachesis and Chronos yelled.
"Yep, me," Satan said. Harry gasped at the sight of him. Parry was not the urbane looking fellow he had appeared to be when Harry had last seen him. He now had a purple Mohawk haircut, and was dressed in a clown suit with two-foot long shoes, a painted face, and a red rubber nose. The shock was too much and all three other Incarnations fell down, laughing. Satan glowered at them.
"W-w-what happened to you?" Harry asked, between laughs.
"Sirius Fricken Black happened to me!" Satan growled. "As soon as he was dumped through the Veil, he disappeared, and has been pranking my servants and me continually. And there is not a damned thing I can do about it! Hell is my Dominion, but since he still has his body and has a redeemed soul, I can't touch him. But never mind that now, what is happening here?"
Harry explained the situation, with Lachesis adding her two knuts in. He finished up his tale by refusing to take Luna or Odd. Satan looked at Lachesis, then grinned. "This is your fault, you know."
"How is it my fault?" she shrieked.
"Simple. It all goes back to Zane. Remember that he decided to save more than one life, and it was his call. Death has Dominion on whom he takes, and can actively refuse. I have decided that I am never going to stand between any Thanatos and girls named Luna! I still feel the repercussions from that fiasco."
"But Zane never actively killed anyone before their time either!"
"He still had the right. Besides, this hunk of meat," Parry kicked at the dead Death Eater, "Probably didn't have a long life expectancy anyway. He's young enough to be nothing but cannon fodder anyway. Just snip his thread and tie it on one of the others."
Lachesis brought out her tapestry. "Hmmm. Well, the good news is that he would never have procreated. Even if he had, it would not have meant much. He is not in line to inherit and doesn't have much of a life expectancy anyway. I suppose I could work with it. If Thanatos insists on being stubborn..."
"Damned right," Harry growled.
"What about me, am I still needed?" Chronos asked.
"Not really," said Parry. "But let me give you a heads up. You owe Harry here a big favor."
"Oh, why is that?"
"You have had total control of time since you took office, or at least that is what I understand."
"About 80 years ago, some wizards found a pocket of Time Sand, the same stuff your hourglass is made of. They built time turners that go back up to a day at a time."
Chronos paled. "The havoc they can play with the time line..."
"Yep, and there isn't anything you can do about them. The pasts are unalterable, and have serious threads built in to Fate's tapestry."
"This is terrible! But what does Thanatos have to do with them?"
"Harry here, before he became Thanatos, led his friends, including this girl," Satan pointed at Luna, "into the Department of Mysteries. They had a battle with Death Eaters, during which, all time turners were destroyed and the Time Sand made unusable. It is because of him that your time in office has had no problems with mortals messing with time. It does mean that in a few weeks, your time, you will be up to your arse in time meddlers."
Chronos nodded gravely at Harry. "It does seem that I owe you a large debt. And you also, Satan, for the advance knowledge. I am surprised that I don't already know it. I just knew that there was reason for gratitude."
"I'm not surprised," said Lachesis. "It was a top secret program."
"Top Secret?!" Harry said, surprised. "Dumbledore gave my friend Hermione one during her third year! She was 13 going on 14 at the time."
"That ass!" Lachesis fumed. He has caused more knots in my tapestry than even you, Harry!"
"Speaking of knotting up things, Harry, would you please do something with Sirius Black? I don't, at this point, care what. Just get him the Hell out of Hell!"
"Sure! I was trying to get hold of you to do just that, but kept missing you."
"That is because I was running all over Hell trying to catch him!"
Chronos piped up. "Does this mean we are done here?"
The other Incarnations looked at each other and nodded. "Thank you, Chronos. I believe that we have worked out an accord." Chronos smiled and turned his hourglass, bringing time back on line and disappearing.
Odd Lovegood reached down to help Luna up from the floor as the live Death Eater burst through the door. Harry almost face-palmed himself for forgetting about him. He swung his scythe around, taking off the Death Eater's hand holding his wand. He then grabbed the Death Eater by the robes and brought him in close, letting the man see his death mask. There was the sound of liquid running down the thug's leg and hitting the floor.
"You tell Voldemort that we have business, and I will be collecting him soon," growled Harry. He shoved the Death Eater down, and the man activated his portkey and disappeared.
Luna and Odd gazed at the trio of Incarnations without blinking. "Are you guys having a convention?" Odd asked. "I mean, it's not very often that we are visited by the Fates and the Prince of Evil." He snickered. "Although it looks like you're the Clown Prince of Evil. ", he mused, "You are much scarier as a clown than your old look. Everyone knows that clowns are the epitome of evil."
"Let me see if I can fix that," said Harry. He pulled out his wand and waved it at Satan. "Finite!" he said, restoring him to his usual appearance.
"Thanks," muttered Satan. "I need to get back and see if Hell is still there."
"Don't forget this," Harry said, hooking out the dead Death Eater's soul and handing it over to Satan. "It will save me the postage. I'll be along as soon as I can. I've probably got quite a backlog." Satan disappeared with a pop and whiff of sulfur.
"That's my cue also," said Lachesis. "We need to get together later to talk about your two friends here," pointing at Luna and Odd. "I'm going to have to study my tapestry to find out what we are going to do with them. For now, they should go somewhere safe behind some good wards." She faded out, leaving Harry with Odd and Luna.
"Will you guys be okay?" Harry asked.
"Yes," said Odd. "We can go home; the wards will keep anyone out who means us harm."
Harry turned to leave, but was stopped by Luna. She threw her arms around him and gave him a kiss. "Harry, I don't know everything that happened in here, but thank you. Don't be a stranger. Can I walk you out to where you have Mortis?"
Harry's face lit up in a grin. "That would be great!" He offered his arm to his friend.
"I'll tag along behind you; we can floo from the Leaky Cauldron." Odd said. "And the invitation is open from me also. I can see you being as much a friend as Zane."
"Not too many people would think that having Death as a friend would be that great a thing."
"Most people are either too stupid or too afraid of Death to try," said Luna. "Daddy and I have the pleasure of knowing the man behind the office, both you and Zane. Death holds no fear from us, just knowledge that when our time has come, death will be gentle and just." They passed through the portal at the Leaky Cauldron and stopped at the floo. Odd whispered something to Luna and threw in some floo powder.
"The Rookery!" he said, and stepped into the flame.
Harry and Luna walked out the door into muggle London. Luna saw Mortis parked at the curb, jumped in and pressed the button with the horse head. Mortis morphed into his horse form, then nuzzled Luna like an old friend. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a granola bar, taking off the wrapper and offering it to the steed.
"Mortis loves these things, you know. I always keep a couple of them in case Zane comes by. Now I'll keep some for when you visit."
"I would like that, Luna. I thought I would never see any of my friends until it was time to collect them. Now I know that I still have at least one good friend."
Luna put her arms around Harry's neck and tilted her face up. Harry grinned, pulled back his hood so the mask was not visible, and gave her a tender kiss. He then climbed aboard Mortis and watched as Luna went back inside to use the floo. With a much lighter heart, he checked his watch and saw there was 10 minutes left until his next appointment.
"Well partner, I guess it's time to get to work." Mortis whinnied in agreement and launched himself into the sky.