Everybody praise Tycho. Without him, I doubt this chapter would have ever come to existence.
I apologize for the people who wanted self-righteous BAMF Harry who judiciously strikes everyone down because he is God, pretty much, and can do what he pleases. IMO Harry would be the opposite; Harry would be the guy who randomly woke up and found himself God and then tried to do everything in his power to get away from himself. Idk why this characterization of Harry speaks to me so much but it does. I love the idea of him being the most powerful man in the world and wanting nothing to do with himself.
Harry wandered somewhat aimlessly around the grounds before the sprawling castle. A nonexistent wind had blown the upside-down structure a bit to the left, and as a result the staircase to the front steps had gotten more tangled up in the air than usual, and Harry didn't want to chance the idea of walking up it when there was still such a chance it might blow over. He could have flown up there, of course. Even though he'd never flown with wings the experience was rather intrinsic; much like floating, or flying on a broom. He tilted his head upward, into the gray sky. Something arbitrary stopped him from doing so, however. He wondered absentmindedly what it was.
He stopped his involuntary pacing and rested at the bottom of the staircase. Above him, the stars groaned in the silent wind, twisting and curling like a long, pale ribbon connecting the castle to the ground. He felt about as lost as the castle right now: lost and four seconds away from blowing away in the wind.
He wasn't entirely sure what he had been expecting, what with postponing his existential crisis for a good five years or so.
The Death Note was a heavy, insurmountable weight in his hands.
He sat there for some time; a flickering figure in an unsubstantial landscape, the only swath of color in a grayscale world. Eternity could have blown through, looped around again, and one would not be able to tell from the world unfurling around him. Nothing changed in this timeless, decrepit place. Nothing, perhaps, but Harry.
He split the spine open, staring into the pensive lines of paper as if they could possibly hold any answers for him.
In the space behind his eyes he could see the subtle tilt of Light Yagami's head, the narrowing of his demonic eyes and the slight curve of his lips and in the quiet places of the memory the distinction between Light Yagami and Tom Riddle blurred again.
He looked back down at the book in his hands.
Would he have killed the Dark Lord with this book if he had the chance?
He pondered this.
A soundless figure dropped from the sky. Harry did not look up, even as black feathers fluttered quietly around him, diffused in the retrograde light of the benign sun. The monster's figure loomed above him, blanketing him in a pattern of darkness. When the Death King finally turned upwards, the dark silhouette of Ryuk towered over him, nothing discernible but for the outline of gold burning at the edges of his profile.
"It's light out." Harry said, nonsensically.
"The sun does that sometimes." Ryuk agreed.
Sunset, Harry's mind supplied. The lamp posts at the forefront of the staircase were off, the light casting ominous shadows in their wake. He'd never seen a sunset here in the world of death. He'd also never seen a sun. Harry shut the book with a thud, standing. He barely cusped Ryuk's shoulder, and over the hedge of dark feathers he could see a blinding light off in the indeterminable distance.
"He's calling you." Ryuk turned to him, as if picking up a thread of conversation that Harry has long forgotten. "Do you hear it?"
"Yes." Harry replied.
Harry, a voice says in the silent wind. Harry I'm waiting for you.
He knew who it as.
Ryuk tilted his head. "Will you go to him?"
Did he have anything better to do with his life?
"Sure." He said, agreeably. "Where is he?"
Ryuk turned his head skyward. Above them, the castle floated in the breeze; an amalgamation of winding towers and elaborate embellishments. Ryuk pointed to the tip of the tower—some ways sideways.
Harry sighed, opened his wings, and flew.
There was an old man precariously balanced on the edge of the terrace, surrounded by dilapidated, but exotic spires strung up from the tops of the castle. The sun remained a blinding presence behind him, paneling the ground beneath him in long shafts of gold and yellow. Privately, Harry could admit that he'd never quite seen something as beautiful as light in the world of death. It was certainly a sight to see. Almost as much as the man in front of him.
"So, when did you die?" Harry asked without preamble.
"Oh, not too long ago." Replied Grindlewald, airy and conversational. They could have been talking of the weather, for all the inflection given in his voice. "It was quite the show, you know. You should have come to watch."
"I can imagine." Harry intoned flatly. What a spectacle it must have been: was he burned at the stake? He could imagine quite a few people finding great, perverse pleasure in that. The muggle way? Disinterestedly, Harry wondered how, exactly, the death penalty was enacted in the Wizarding World. With an avada kedavra? But who casted it?
He also couldn't imagine that his presence went unnoticed.
Grindlewald turned over his shoulder. Harry could not make out anything discernible about his expression—nothing but one burning blue eye visible in the searing light.
"And how are you, Harry?"
"How do you mean?"
He felt as if perhaps this was all a dream. It certainly made about as much sense as one.
Grindlewald turned around fully at that. He looked just about as Harry had imagined; old, tired, and resigned. "You seem to be fairing quite poorly."
Harry blinked rapidly. "And how, exactly, am I supposed to be fairing?"
"Well," Grindelwald appraised, something like mirth lighting in his eyes. "If I was you, I'm sure I would have merrily offed most of the human race in favor of my own gains."
"I think I'll pass on that." Harry cut in, dry.
The homicidal old man gave him a smile, though it was bereft of any significant emotion.
"I am though, I suppose." Harry sighed. "Fairing poorly. I wish the Hallows had never come to me at all."
"I'd think you would." Grindlewald agreed, quite serious. "You have always struck me as a pacifist in a most inopportune situation. Tell me Harry, do you believe violence can be justified?"
"Absolutely not." Answered the death king, immediately.
Grindlewald snorted. "Irony." He muttered, shaking his head.
Harry blinked a few more times. "What is a pacifist?"
"One who does not believe war or violence is the answer." Explained Grindlewald. "Does this not strike you as familiar?"
"It does." Harry nodded.
"The Wizarding world would have had the Dark Lord hung for the world to see." Grindlewald noted, austere. "They would have rejoiced at the sight. They did rejoice, I believe, at his death. As they did at mine. But you… you derived no pleasure in the demise of your Dark Lord Voldemort. And you would not have found solace in mine."
Harry swallowed, looking away. In the distance, mountains of jewels glimmered in the flawless light; even then, however, they were devoid of any significant vivacity. The world rolled out beneath him in an eternal stretch of wasteland, nothing but the overbearing dome of the sky to enclose it. He could privately admit that he wasn't all that surprised that Grindlewald could see into all he had to hide. At times he felt he was the only one on this earth who could never find a reason to harm someone else—even the man who slayed his own parents, who was accountable for the deaths of thousands, who was personally accountable for the deaths of many of his friends. He should have relished that moment: the clarity of the Dark Lord falling to his knees, the shock in his eyes as he fell into the dust. But all that lingered in his soul in that moment was indifference.
"Perhaps you were meant to be Death King after all," The dark lord surmised. "Certainly there is no one else who would find such little pleasure in it."
"Why me?" Harry blurted. "Why not you?"
Grindlewald shrugged. "Perhaps simple fortune. Harry, I would not know."
There was a stone that burned its way into his pocket no matter how many times he threw it away, a wand that always ended up in his trunk, whether he had snapped it in two or returned it to Dumbledore's grave. There was a cloak that sat as a quiet presence at the foot of his bed, as if to remind him that death would never find him.
Harry feared he already knew the answer.
He moved to sit next to the most dangerous wizard to have ever lived, crouching at the end of the ledge. He felt as if the blinding light should give him some small comfort, a flicker of warmth. There was nothing; no cold or warmth to be found in this world.
"The cloak." Harry found himself asking; an almost arbitrary question. "When did you get it?"
Grindlewald looked slightly surprised at this. "Why Harry, did you not know?"
Harry turned his face away from the light. "Know what?"
"I killed your grandfather." Said the dead dark lord, slowly. "The Potter Manor had been a base of operations for Dumbledore's men at the time. I overtook it, and took the cloak for my own… for some time, actually. Dumbledore retrieved it when all my personal items were seized; I assume he must have given it back to your father."
"Is that why that place was burned to the ground?" Harry wondered, aloud.
"I'm sure I had something to do with that, yes." Grindlewald's lips upturned slightly.
Harry looked towards the old man, and he to him. It appeared as if Grindlewald was expecting anger on his part. Perhaps, at some point, there would have been. But any inflection had long since left Harry, it seems, leaving little else but lament and regret in its wake.
Harry shrugged. "It was an ugly thing, anyway."
He felt somewhat compelled to ask, "Why did you kill him?"
"Your grandfather?" Grindlewald's brows raised. "Well, because he was there, I suppose."
Somehow, this did not strike Harry as dishonest, nor surprising. Nor even, as alarming. The idea of death over such insignificance no longer appalled him as it should.
Harry hugged his knees. "You're right." He said at length. "Maybe I am a pacifist…"
He turned his head back into the sun.
Harry added, bitterly, "But these days, I can't bring myself to feel much of anything anymore."
"Is that so?"
"I met the most corrupted human in the world the other day." He sighed. "I could stop him, you know. He kills hundreds everyday like it's nothing—and it would take me just as little effort to kill him, too. He reminded me so much of Voldemort: it scared me."
"He scared you?" Grindlewald tilted his head.
Harry shook his head. "No. I scared myself. He was—he was holding my hand, and I was sitting there, thinking to myself, 'Well, I'm going to have to kill this one too."
Harry could not decipher the look in Grindlewald's eyes. Not pity, nor empathy. Consideration, perhaps.
"I don't want to kill anyone anymore." He mumbled. "I don't want to be Death King."
"Well, Harry, rest assured if I could somehow wrestle the title away from you, I would. As it is, I am set to live an eternity in this pitiful afterlife." Grindlewald said, quite cheerful. "I'd put the title to excellent use."
"You'd just off everyone." Harry noted, cross.
"Oh, no, I don't have the energy for that anymore." Retorted the German, merrily. "But to that end, I also would not feel such remorse at tearing away at all this excess life."
Harry chuckled, mirthlessly.
"I cautioned you for a reason, Harry." Grindlewald reminded, stern. "I could see it then and I could see it now: you are no killer. Metaphorically and physically, the killing curse destroys you. The act of killing destroys you. It will besiege you if you are not careful—if you do not have the capacity for it. You do not have it in you. Some people do. I do. Your Lord Voldemort did. Certainly Dumbledore did. But you are different than us; you would see a peaceful resolution if you could."
"This is not a good thing." Grindlewald laughed. "Harry: the fact of the matter is, there are people like me, and your Dark Lord. If we had our way, we would watch the world burn. Light Yagami would do the same thing."
"What are you trying to say?"
"That this world is no place for pacifists, Harry; neither this one nor the one we've left behind. There is no room in this place of violence for a soul as kind and brave as yours."
Harry did not know whether Grindlewald was offending him or not. He didn't know if he felt offended. A bit, perhaps. Even though the mass murderer's words were true.
"I should kill him, then."
"Oh yes, that would be best for all of humanity." Agreed Grindlewald, jovial. "But, would that be best for you?"
Harry blinked into the endless sun. "I'm sorry?"
"Often we forget how selfish it is to ask others for this task: it is no easy feat, taking a life. And as I have said—you are not fit for it. You'd see yourself to ruin if the world could have what it likes of you, their hero to slay all their foes."
A tide of exasperation and resignation besieged him. "The most prolific murderer in history; giving out sound advice. Must you be so wise?"
"Ah well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration." Grindlewald mused, rubbing his beard appraisingly. In a lot of ways, his many similarities with Dumbledore are alarming as they are prolific. "And you see, Harry, evil I may be, but I am old, and unfortunately with this age comes quite a bit of foresight."
Harry blew a raspberry. "Well, at least here you can't wreak havoc on society as we know it." And then, startled, "Why are you here?" Quite the belated question, but nothing about Grindlewald's presence had struck him as surprising.
"Consider it punishment for my deeds."
The fake sun had long since set, leaving the world of death in a stasis between not-night and not-day. Harry didn't know where it went; perhaps it maundered off for a time and came back when it grew bored of its travels. That made about as much sense as everything else in this forsaken place did. Rather absentmindedly he wondered if he could summon the sun back—would it listen to him, as all other creatures of this lawless place did?
"—You tell him—"
"—well I won't—"
Harry sighed, looking up from the neat arrangement of papers upon his desk. In the dark jaws of the hallway he could make out the almost indiscernible shapes of his servants; in the dim light the edges of their gaudy jewels sparkled slightly.
"You may as well stop arguing outside of my office and come in." Harry noted with exasperation.
The shuffling and hushed, angered whispers fell silent. Gukku and Justin trudged sheepishly into the light of his office, looking as if they'd mauled each other out in the hallway. Gukku's strings of golden necklaces had fallen off down his shoulder, and Justin appeared to have entangled most of his bracelets in his ribs.
"Sorry, my liege." Justin bowed low. "We were just… having disagreements."
"Yes, I could deduce as much." Harry replied, dry. "Can I help you two?"
Gukku shoved a hoof into Justin's side. This got about as lodged as the rest of Justin's bracelets, and for a moment the two struggled to pull the goat's foot out of the skeleton's ribcage. When they finally managed to break apart—after many minutes and a lot of broken jewelry—Justin coughed ineloquently.
"Well, you see… There is a bit of a situation."
Harry narrowed his eyes slowly, deceptively calm. "What kind of situation?"
The two shared a look, and then Gukku blurted, "We didn't want you to get mad at us again so we didn't make any bets or anything!"
"Yes, that's wonderful." Harry made an impatient noise. "But what is the situation?"
"Ah… well… another Death Note has appeared in the human world."
The two cowered back. Justin threw his hands up in the air. The majority of his bracelets clattered to the ground. "We had nothing to do with it!"
"Yes, yes we swear!" Gukku nodded violently.
"I believe you." Harry answered quickly, much to the evident relief of the two Shinigami. "But I still want to know who it was."
The two shared another look.
Harry turned to his windows. Between two panels of stained glass sat Deridovely; a terrifying figure cloaked in black, indiscernible for everything but his ominous scythe.
Harry blinked. "Do I know this Rem?"
"Doubtful." Deridovely snorted. "Rem is.. a strange one."
"Doesn't talk to much of anyone." Gukku agreed. "Or gamble, much. She keeps to herself and doesn't like humans at all."
"Wait. She?" Harry balked, and then looked between all three of them. "You have genders?"
Justin shrugged. "I suppose. But they're rather meaningless, as we do not procreate. However, according to Gelus, who was a Shinigami who passed away, the intended use of—
"Oh, enough of that." Harry interrupted with a huff. "Deridovely, would you mind bringing this Rem to me? I'd like to get this sorted out."
Deridovely nodded, getting to his feet and drifting out the open window.
Harry shook his head with a sigh. "What is it with you Shinigami and messing around with the humans? Is it always like this?" That may explain a lot about history, if so.
Justin shook his head. "No, my King. In fact, it's never been done before."
Harry's mouth dropped. He closed it with suspended disbelief. "So… what, it all just magically happened while I'm here?"
Justin shrugged. "Looks that way."
"In Rem's defense," Sputtered Gukku. "It's not her fault that there is another Death Note. You see, the Shinigami Justin mentioned, Gelus, gave up his life to kill off a man who was intending to murder a young girl he had taken a liking to. This is one of the only ways a Shinigami can die; by interrupting fate and prolonging the life of someone who was intended to die. As a result, Rem came into the possession of two Death Notes."
Harry's expression turned thoughtful. "This Shinigami… Gelus… he gave up his life for a human girl?"
Justin shifted uneasily. "Well, yes." Said the skeleton, looking at a loss for words.
"Huh." Harry mused aloud. "That's almost… why, that's almost touching."
"It doesn't happen often." Justin was quick to say.
Deridovely returned in a clout of inky black smoke. By his side was a Shinigami Harry had never had the displeasure of knowing: almost as if in response to the skeletal appearance of Justin, this one looked like a half-unwrapped mummy. If it really was female… there was no overt way to tell.
"Are you Rem?" Harry asked coolly, leaning against the side of his desk.
The impassive Shinigami turned to him slowly. "Yes." She said, slowly. There was a bit of trepidation in her eyes, though. Ah. So she'd at least heard of him. "My King." She added, wary.
"Would you like to explain to me why you've given a human girl a Death Note?"
"It was hers to have." Rem shrugged. "Gelus gave his life for her… it was only fitting she take his Death Note."
Harry hummed thoughtfully. "Has she used it?"
As if sensing his train of thought, the Shinigami began to look mildly alarmed. "My King…" She intoned slowly. "Misa—she… does not mean any harm. She is just a young girl—
"So she is using it." Harry surmised, bland.
"Well, yes." Rem halted, cowed.
"But my King," Rem began, falteringly, "She does… she is…" The Shinigami appeared to be struggling for words.
"Dumb?" Gukku supplied.
"Obsessed." Justin added with a scoff.
"Naïve." Rem finished, with a glare to her counterparts. "Misa is naïve. And I fear she has been tricked into the machinations of both Light Yagami and that detective. She does not know what she has put herself into—she was just trying to get Light's attention."
"Wait, I'm sorry. She wanted Light's attention?" Harry echoed, genuinely baffled. "And so she's killing people?"
"Not the smartest apple in the basket." Deridovely snorted.
Rem looked enraged on the girl's behalf.
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. "This… is getting out of hand." He said at length. "We can't have so many Death Notes in the human realm. We shouldn't have any, at all. Someone explain to me what's going on down there."
"The humans have gone into uproar with the coming of what they call the 'Second Kira'."
"Misa." Harry inputted. "Using Gukku's Death Note."
"Yes." Justin agreed. "And in doing so Misa Amane has caught the attention of both L and Light. This has thrown an even larger wrench in L's plans, of course, but Light is really quite enthused. The two have met, and because Misa has made the deal—
"The Shinigami Deal."
Another figure crouched upon his window sill. Harry wondered if this was going to be a running theme in his life; creatures finding their way to his window. In the frame of the sole open panel, wedged between the elaborate stained glass sat Grindlewald, looking comfortable and at ease lounging in the wide framing of sky.
"A human sacrifices half of their lifespan in order to get Shinigami eyes." He elaborated. "Our eyes. They allow them to see what we see: the names of all humans, and the amount of time they have left to live."
"And she has them?" Harry's eyes widened. He whirled back to Rem. "You gave them to her?"
"She asked." Replied the Shinigami, meek.
"This is absurd." Harry hissed. "This is foolish. Rem, you are to revoke them. And take away her Death Note, as well."
"I cannot." The Shinigami protested. "Once ownership has passed to another—it cannot be broken with anything but death."
"Great." Harry muttered. "So now there's two of them."
His servants looked fearful and concerned, and Harry drew a breath. He imagined that the Death Eaters must have looked something similar—wary and terrified of their powerful master, who held their lives in his hands. The similarities between him and Voldemort multiplied by the second.
"Enough." He sighed. "You're all dismissed."
Gukku and Justin nodded, descending back into the darkness of the hallway as if they couldn't get out of there fast enough. Deridovely disappeared, looking mostly unconcerned. Rem remained, an uneasy presence at the front of his desk.
"Wait, my King." She called, imploring. "What… what of Misa?"
"I will decide what to do with her." Harry replied, coldly.
"But my King!" Rem pleaded. "She didn't mean to—
Harry waved her off. "Yes, I understand. But the fact of the matter is—I can't have one human running around with a Death Note. Two, even more so."
Rem faltered at that, looking as if she had more to say. Finally, she only nodded. "Of course, my King." She bowed low, and erupted into a dark cloud. When it cleared, nothing remained behind.
"I can't just sit around and do nothing, can I?" Harry asked, faintly, to the old man behind him.
Grindlewald hummed noncommittally. "You could." He shrugged. "There's no one stopping you from doing nothing."
"Except yourself." Grindlewald agreed. "Perhaps I spoke to soon, Harry. It is quite clear that you detest the idea of murder—but it is infinitely clearer that you also cannot stand aside and watch the Dark Lords of this world set the earth on fire."
"What am I to do, then?" Harry turned to the man in the window.
Grindlewald shrugged. "And how am I to know?"
Harry wished the old man could have some way of knowing—have some kind of advice, even when Harry inherently knew that no one could help him in this but himself. Idly, he thought on what his life could have been, had he not been Harry Potter. Perhaps he'd have married Ginny, been a happy lad, satisfied with everything he had, be it quite a bit or just enough, live a merry and wondrous life without any knowledge or intimacy with death.
But he knew in his heart that these were just dreams.
He could not go on as a wary observer: Misa Amane had forced his hand.
Harry looked up, despondent and mournful, the sky before him a watery grave.
The manor appeared to have long since lost its splendor, even though he had been here not but a few weeks ago. Now, the white washed palace seemed overtaken with sorrow, empty and hollow and full of regret. Though the entrance hallway still retained its grand splendor, sparkling even in the dreary, dim light, he felt as if its beauty could no longer touch him. The enormous chrysanthemum centerpiece seemed immortalized in time, much like the timeless hostess of the house.
Harry stood at the front steps, holding Chrysanthe's letter in hand. He could hear the doorknocker, Alfonso, slumbering behind him.
The death king blinked up into the tumultuous clouds just as the first of the rain began to splatter about his feet.
There was nothing more to it, he supposed.
Hideki Ryuuga sat perched on a wiry chair just outside a coffee shop on the edge of the To-Oh campus, looking like a strange, spindly bird enjoying a cup of coffee and perhaps looking over yesterday's notes. Harry doubted that he needed to look over his notes from an entry level criminology class. He doubted L needed to go to a criminology class, period. Undoubtedly he was picking apart the Kira case; maybe even re-watching footage from Light's room.
Harry scrunched his nose.
As he approached the table, L made no visible move that he had noticed the shadow falling over him.
Not for the first time since Harry had found out about the second Death Note, he marveled at L's genius. Here he was, a human without any capacity nor any knowledge of the Shinigami realm and the Death Note, and yet he still managed to come to the right conclusions, to find the answers that no one else could. A begrudging respect bloomed inside Harry at the thought.
Much like Grindlewald and Dumbledore, and he and Tom Riddle—Light Yagami and L Lawliet were two sides of the same coin.
Light Yagami was the darkness, though—he was Lord Voldemort, the burning inside of a little orphaned boy. L was his determination, all his drive and all his fears.
L was what could have been.
"Tom Riddle." He began without preamble, abruptly stopping his erratic typing. He still did not look up.
"Yes?" Harry responded, hesitantly.
"You are not Tom Riddle. He does not exist." L noted, his eyes finally leaving the screen. He frowned thoughtfully. "You've been lying."
"I have." Harry agreed.
L turned to the boy in front of him—this strange creature who had walked into L's plans and uncoiled his elaborate web, who had taken all his beliefs and turned them on his head. Little did this insignificant boy know, but he had done something few people in the world had ever managed; he made L question himself. Had made L question his analysis of Light.
He did not appear surprised or disconcerted that L had figured his game. L was rather… disheartened at that. He had spent some time combing through records of Tom Riddle in England. It was a misleadingly uncommon name. He had been at first surprised, and then intrigued, when it became clear that there was no Tom Riddle. That this boy had so effectively played both L and Light. They had both taken him for granted—he did not appear to be anything significant, just a pretty face that had so unwittingly stepped into their chess board. L had assumed that he was just an unfortunate ploy Light had tossed at the detective to perhaps lead him off his trail; but it was becoming quite clear that Tom must have machinations of his own.
But this figure in front of him, watching him idly with a slight, amused tilt of his lips—this did not seem to be a poor boy caught in a game of chase.
"Who are you?" L questioned sharply. "And why are you here? What do you know?"
"That's a lot of questions." Not-Tom blinked, taken aback. The charming smile came in full. It was infinitely more lethal than Light's—Light's was a farce, a fallacy that was as easy to slip on and off as the rest of his persona. But this—this subtle arch of lips and the quiet glimmer in his eyes—was genuine. And in that, a thousand times more dangerous.
"You're avoiding them." L pointed out. He swiftly shut his laptop. It wouldn't do for this boy to catch even a glimpse of his work, not with his allegiances so uncertain.
The boy's smile widened. "It's Harry." He said, almost bashfully. "My name is Harry."
"And how am I to believe that?" L asked.
Harry shrugged. "You don't have to. I suppose you'll just have to take my word for it."
"Besides," He began anew. "You haven't been all that forthcoming either, now have you, L Lawliet?"