AN: Hi. This is what Cece commonly refers to as "the magnum opus" and what Coco commonly refers to as "when are you going to get your next chapter done? I mean for god's sake, school doesn't even count for you any more!" It's outlined. So far it's 1/2 done, so we figured it's about time to begin the posting. We were going to wait until it was entirely done (cas there is little more that Cece and Coco hate than when stories are stopped—even if no one is reviewing them *hint hint nudge nudge* because that doesn't mean people aren't reading them). But that ship sank...
Summary: Who says Life stops after Death? Because it most certainly doesn't. Just because Nearly-Headless-Nick doesn't know what happens on 'the other side' doesn't mean that we don't. The story of Lily and James' adaptation into Death and their inability to stop looking after their son.
Disclaimer: Nothing is ours. Not even the idea about the toasters, sadly enough.
Chapter 1: Prologue
It felt rather like falling asleep, only a little stranger. That was the only way he could think to describe it. Dying, that is.
What was stranger was the fact that two minutes later, he opened his eyes in a large room that was full of people sitting on long couches, reading newspapers, chatting with neighbors. He scratched his head a little, and sat down (not wanting to be the only one standing).
"Will Mr. James Potter please come to the podium?" came a voice over an intercom. James stood up, and looked for the podium. For some reason, he was not at all shocked to have been called. He saw it. Behind it sat an old, gray woman. He approached it, and the woman handed him a key.
"Take Elevator P to the 7,777,777th floor. Your house is 210 Rue Colbert." And with that she waved him away.
James was confused. Very confused.
But he found the elevator and hit the button leading to the proper floor. He walked down a street lined with matching houses and flower gardens and hedges until he found a street sign marked Rue Colbert. He walked down that one for a while until he found number 210 (it wasn't hard: it was the only one with no flowers out front). It was a fairly large house, considering that it was empty. He opened the front door, crossed an entryway and sat down in the living room.
"So. I am dead. I am sitting in a house, alone, in Death. I have no idea if Lily and Harry will be all right. I have no idea about anything at all. I have no idea why on earth there is a toaster sitting on the coffee table before me. All in all, I know nothing. Excellent," he said to himself. He had a habit of speaking aloud. It was a habit Lily found endearing and one that Sirius often made fun of. A pang shot through him at the thought of Sirius. Would he be all right? Would he be able to convince Dumbledore that he hadn't betrayed them? Of course he could. Lily would help him.
Except no, she couldn't, because she had just walked through the door and sat down on the couch next to him.
The two of them sat there, neither of them daring to ask the question they so longed to ask: what of their son. They held hands quietly, shooting glances at one another periodically.
Finally, Lily spoke. "Why the hell is there a toaster on a coffee table?"
"I was wondering that myself," replied her husband.
"I mean, I understand why there would be a toaster. That is not completely beyond me. Toaster means toast and toast is food. But why not in the kitchen? Is there a kitchen?"
"I think there is. I can see an icebox through that door."
Lily craned her neck. "So you can. So then why the toaster?"
The answer made itself quite clear in about three and a half seconds following this question.
A letter popped out of the toaster.
To: Mr. and Mrs. James Potter
210 Rue Colbert
Dear Lily and James,
If you wouldn't mind, I would love to drop by at your earliest possible convenience. Please send a little note by return toaster and I will pop over. (You write something, put my name and address (see below) on the envelope and put it in the toaster as you would to make toast.)
47 Place de la Chappelle Orientale Apt. 487
Lily and James glanced at each other. The name Dumbledore alone meant that they felt some sort of trust in this unknown person. Not to mention that they had absolutely nothing to lose at this point.
So they replied, "Thank you very much. Feel free to drop by any time you like," and sent it by return toaster.
Forty seven seconds later, there was a knock on the front door.
Lily opened it. A small girl of about fourteen stood before her.
"Hello," smiled the girl brightly. She walked inside. She had curly blonde hair and a demeanor that was, for lack of a better word, bouncy. When she walked, she had a spring in her step and when she sat down and smiled, she bounced a little bit the chair opposite James. Her blue eyes twinkled in exactly the same way as Professor Dumbledore's.
"We'd offer you something, but I'm not exactly sure if we have anything. Or if, for that matter, you can eat things in death. Can you eat things in death?" he asked her.
"Oh yes. Your icebox should be full. They don't empty. It's rather nice, actually, because if you feel like having a sandwich, there are all the sandwich supplies. My dad once fancied eating monkey brains for some unfathomable reason and when we opened up the fridge, there they were, ready to eat.
"I'm so glad that I was the first to find you. It was very lucky I was on the right channel. If not, it would have been one of the Prewett twins and I wanted to beat them because they found Marlene McKinnon first when she died."
"What do you mean, channel?" asked Lily.
"It's like a muggle television. The problem with death is we all just hang around and we can't really do anything because Maya runs the entire show and if we want to change something we have to pass it by her and it is really awful because she is always overworked and never has time to answer our questions. In other words, this place is basically a libertarian (or communist) heaven, whichever way you think about it: anyone can do what they want. So long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Anyway. We basically get to watch what is going on in Life." She stood up and tapped the wall opposite the couch. It turned blue and a menu appeared offering four options: (1) A rerun of the World Cup of your choice (2) Spanish Soap Operas (3) The DIN (Death International News) (4) The Cooking Channel. Ariana pressed number 3 and a moment later, they were watching some strange short Asian man wearing a black suit talk. She pressed the wall again and a "search" panel appeared.
"Here. Who do you want to spy on?" she asked.
"Harry," they both replied at once.
Ariana wrote Harry James Potter with her fingers in the search panel and a moment later, they saw their son in the ruins of their house. He was screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. Lily clutched James' hand.
"I'm afraid that it is always rather depressing to watch the people you love after you die. No matter what, bad things happen. Aberforth broke Albus' nose at my funeral, which is not exactly something I would have wanted, given everything. I mean really, it wasn't like it was his fault or anything."
"His fault about what?" asked James.
"That I died. Albus killed me. Well, I suppose it sounds rather awful, doesn't it. In truth, I couldn't be more grateful. Life was not that great for me. I was insane, you see, and quite incapable of using magic at all. Death is so much nicer. So much more calm and all that. Unfortunately, neither of my brothers realizes that this is how I feel, so they are likely to continue living their lives in complete misery until they die. Pity. I really am quite thankful they ended it."
There was a pause. Lily glanced at James who was looking resolutely at their screaming child. Her eyes followed his and her heart wrenched towards her son.
"How do we turn it off?" asked Lily. She could hear the tightness of her own voice.
Ariana waved a hand and it went blank.
"Anyway. It is always exceedingly depressing to watch people just after you die. I've recommended a few times just reading the newspapers to keep yourself updated until you have fully …damn it."
"I hate it when I can't think of a word for something. It's a verb, it means to become accustomed to something. I think it begins with an A."
"That's the one. Until you have become fully acclimated to death. Doesn't usually take long by our standards of time, but in Life time…well, it can take a few years."
"Does Life travel faster than Death?" aked James
"Well, yeah. I mean, Death lasts an eternity of Life, right? It's more interesting if it goes on faster. I think its like a year in life is about a week or so in death. I don't remember exactly. It's kind of the same theory behind dog years, or at least, that's what Gideon tells me…although I have been dead longer than him, so…Nevermind."
"Gideon Prewett. And Fabian. But Fabian is nicer. A bit more serious. Gideon is kind of…"
"We know the Prewetts, though!" said Lily, looking at James rather excitedly.
"Yes. That's right. You do. I forgot. In any event, they are here, and they should be showing up rather soon, I would imagine."
There was a slightly awkward pause.
"Why do we use toasters for sending mail?" demanded James, "Is something wrong with owls."
"Well, I'm not too sure. There are a lot of rumors. The best one is that Maya was feeling particularly ill, so Henry had to take over the desk so she could sleep and Henry was trying to make her some toast, but when he did, he accidentally put in a television bill and…I don't remember how it gets there, but it ends with us using toasters for mail. Cassandra is convinced that the muggles are going to figure out about it and incorporate it into one of their television series, but no one believes her, poor dear. But then again, what else is new?"
"Cassandra…of Troy?" asked Lily.
"Oh yes. She's a bit loony, but I like her all right. She and I are the heads of the Flimbert Society."
"The Flimbert Society?"
"Yes. But I'm sorry that neither of you can enter it. The rules are rather set in stone."
"What exactly is the Flimbert Society?"
"Can't tell you. Top Secret."
There was a knock on the door. Ariana was up in a flash and she had opened it before Lily and James even realized that she was out of her chair.
"HAH!" she shrieked.
"All right fine! You beat me. All Hail Ariana. You happy?" demanded a familiar voice.
"Gideon Prewett," said James, somewhat astonished.
"Hallo. Welcome to Death."
"Er, thanks?" said Lily, standing up and greeting him.
"I hope this little twit hasn't been bugging you too much. She can be rather obnoxious at times, and if she ever is, feel free to clock her upside the head. It does wonders for her character," smiled Gideon. Big and red-haired as he ever had been, this man brought a strange sense of power into the room. It was not the kind of power that James had always fancied he'd had (one that came more from his brains, followed closely by his ability to carry through on his threats), but one that was more like a young, irritated chimpanzee: it's better just to nod and smile, or he will annoy the shit out of you for a very long time.
"I beat you here by a full ten minutes. How does that make you feel, huh?" demanded Ariana, doing her best to grow by bouncing up and down. She failed rather dismally as she was not even five feet tall, whereas Gideon was well over six.
"Well exercised. You see, I walked across town here. You just took the closest lift, which is just cheating, plain and simple."
"If I walked all the way from D, I swear I would only be in E right now, and just barely."
"You would also be in excellent shape."
"You know, I'm about a hundred years older than you. You should treat me with some respect."
"Do you get the feeling we are intruding on something?" James asked his wife in a whisper.
"Oh yes. Yes, I do. Won't you come in and sit down?" Lily asked the last part of Gideon.
"No, I can't actually. I must dash. I have quidditch practice." James ears metaphorically perked up.
"The DQL—Death Quidditch League. You should find yourself a team James. It's excellent fun. Anyway, I wanted to pop in and say hello before I practiced, because I will probably be too wiped out afterwards to be at all entertaining."
"Bye Gideon!" smiled Ariana, and she closed the door in his face, before he could even finish his sentence. He rolled his eyes through the glass panes of the front door, then waved and walked off.
"That was a tad rude," murmured Lily, slightly apprehensively.
"Ahh, he won't care. Tell me a bit about how, when and where I can find myself a quidditch team," said James like an excited little boy who has just been told that he will have a very large birthday cake that he will get to eat all by himself at the pace he wishes.
Maybe Death wasn't going to be that different from Life.
It took James a moment to realize where he was when he woke up, for the bed and the lighting of the room in which he was lying were completely unfamiliar. The redhead lying next to him was, but that was about it. He climbed out of the bed, quietly left the room, descended the staircase and realized that it was not, in fact, a dream. He pinched himself. Yep. There was the pain.
So he was dead.
He went into the kitchen, debated over eating a banana or a donut (he picked the donut) then went into the living room.
He turned on The Wall, as he had been shown yesterday by a nutjob blonde girl, and scribbled Sirius Black in the search bar. Apparently, The Wall was having difficulty reading his handwriting, because it asked him to write the name again. He complied. The Wall then told him that no such person existed. James tried again, this time writing as clearly as he could for he refused to believe that his best friend had never existed, much less died. In all likelihood, James' handwriting was as much an illegible mess as it ever had been and The Wall was telling him so as opposed to showing him Sirius, who was probably at this very moment sitting in the flat he had bought long before (oh, all right, only a few years back) in London, eating crumpets and chattering with Moony.
Oh. Well why didn't you write that clearly before? Wrote back the wall. James had no greater desire than to kick it, but didn't because he was much too shocked with what he was seeing:
Sirius looked like he was in desperate need of a bath, a few good meals and a comfortable bed (he was currently asleep on a pile of straw), none of which he was likely to get any time soon, because he was clearly in Azkaban.
Ironically, visible from his cell, was his Death Eater cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. How on earth did she get in there? wondered James.
Sirius was moaning and shivering in his sleep. James' stomach lurched.
Sirius, sat bolt upright and cried out: "No! No! It was Peter! I'll kill him!" It took him a moment to realize where he was, just as James had earlier that morning. Then he curled back up. For a moment James thought that he might cry. But no, he was transforming himself into a dog.
"Padfoot," James whispered sadly.
He reopened the search bar, unable to watch this anymore.
Much better, replied The Wall.
"Shut up," snapped James.
Remus was sitting in a rather shabby looking flat. James recognized it as the one he and Remus had shared just after school. Sirius' was too small for more than one person—or at least more than one person who wanted to bring ladies back to it at night—and Remus needed someone to share the rent. James hadn't spent too long there, just long enough for the little old landlady, a darling muggle grandmother who often offered Remus cookies because he was "such a nice boy and looked ever so thin and sickly" consented to sell them the apartment for a minimal price. This of course had nothing to do with the timing of James asking Lily to marry him, thus exponentially growing his need for his own place.
But he was getting sidetracked with thoughts that made him sad.
Remus was looking very shabby, as was his apartment, and he was looking through the newspaper. It was a muggle one, judging by the state of the advirtisements. James looked as closely as he could.
He was looking for employment. And he didn't have to write on a muggle application that you turned into a great furry monster once a month. He could say he was often in bad health, that was all.
But this meant that he had lost his job at the bookstore, which had seemed like such a good match for him.
What must poor Remus be going through? All of his friends had evaporated in a night.
Which reminded him…
Now you are getting it, wrote The Wall.
"SHUT IT!" yelled James.
"Are you talking to walls again, darling?" Came a tired voice. He glanced over his shoulder at Lily, who was wearing a bathrobe.
"Yes," he sighed. "The Wall was making fun of my handwriting."
It was bugging me, wrote The Wall.
"Well, I've been doing that for years."
"Yes, but you aren't a wall. Walls have no right to make fun of me," said James, who was in a very bad temper (even worse of one now that he saw a rat running through a field).
"So, he's still on the loose, is he?" said Lily darkly.
"Yep. And Sirius is in prison and Remus is unemployed."
"Yes, I saw Remus. I thought that old Mr. Blott would keep him around a little while longer at least."
"You and me both."
James threw himself onto the couch.
Lily approached the wall, summoned the search bar and wrote Harry James Potter in neat cursive into it.
The Wall responded almost instantly by showing an image of their son.
"How come it doesn't make fun of you and shows the image so fast?" demanded James.
"I don't know. Maybe it likes me."
James sighed and watched his son, who was currently being poked with a spoon by what looked like either a very attractive piglet or a very unattractive boy.
"Petunia should watch out, or else her son will reach the size and weight of a young killer whale," murmured Lily.
"It's not her son you should be worried about," said James darkly as Petunia appeared, feeding her son about four times the food that she had given Harry.
"Oh, James, how on earth do you know that? Look at him. He's part Vernon."