A/N First off I would like to apologise for the delay in getting this chapter out. I have no real reasons other than stuff happened and Aftermath took a bit of a back burner.
This is the final chapter. I will have completed what this story set out to do in the initial story summary. Some of you have asked about sequels which is something I am seriously considering. However, I don't want to run half-cocked into a sequel and mess it up which is what I nearly did with this story in the first place. So to sum up, if I start creating a sequel it will be with what I think is a well thought out plot with intentions and a goal.
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.
"Your obsession with roofs is unhealthy you know."
Harry turned to smile at Death.
"Heyup." Death greeted, swinging himself down to dangle his legs over the edge of the roof.
It was early morning, the sun just beginning to mark its journey across the sky. Harry had woken early and apparated to his flat. He then made his way up to the roof. It wasn't long before he sensed Death's arrival, but he hadn't turned around, continuing to train his eyes on the city.
"Is Pestilence gone?" He asked.
"For now." Death confirmed, "I'm going to try and calm her down through other channels, but with women… you never know."
Harry let out a dry chuckle.
"Tell me about it." He paused. "So these channels…?"
"Our dads." Death said. "Turns out they've become best buds since retiring."
Harry shook his head, "I seriously can't get over that. So if Death is your dad, your mother…?"
He looked around and caught the soft smile on Deaths face.
"Mum. Is Springtime. I've got a younger brother out there preparing to take on that role."
Harry sat back and considered the man before him.
"Yeah." Death chuckled, "I think Mum let Dad choose the name this time. Cypress. Just like him to be subtle."
Harry remembered suddenly that Death had referred to Pestilence by another name.
"Do you have a name?" He asked, "I mean, beyond 'Death'?"
Death rose his eyebrows incredulously.
Harry waited for a moment but Death was apparently going to string him along and make him ask the question.
"What is your name?"
The trademark grin appeared again.
"Mulberry. Nice to meet you."
He put a hand forward that Harry shook, dumbfounded.
Dea-Mulberry let out a bark of laughter.
"Yeah. I had friends who used to puzzle over whether it was Mulberry-Something, or Something-Mulberry."
"That wasn't what I found strange." Harry commented wryly.
"I know. " He spread his hands in the universal gesture that read 'what-can-I-say' and added, "Son of Springtime."
"You never said before."
"You never asked!"
Harry let silence fall again.
"There's a way out of the Master of Death thing isn't there."
Dea-Mulberry smiled, but it was a sad smile.
"It's really simple isn't it."
The smile grew into a grin.
"In the Three Brothers," Harry began, wanting to run his logic through out loud, "The Hallows were given to each of the brothers and separated. I was the first to unite them."
Harry sped up, picking up steam.
"But you said that "purists had used sanskrit", which implied there were other Masters, who would have in turn had to unite the Hallows, but were no longer in possession of them.."
"Otherwise, Death wouldn't have had them to give out, and there aren't other Masters running about so… I can't throw away the Hallows. But if I give them to you…"
Mulberry's grin was proud.
"I'll be free." Harry finished and Mulberry nodded.
"That just about sums it up."
"Why didn't you say before now?"
"You never asked. Besides, Dad always said it was better for you to figure it out. Then again maybe I made it too easy. Last guy took a century to figure it out. Another decade to actually act on it. I suppose you want to do it now."
"It's a shame, I like you. Next guy I get may be a prat."
Harry laughed, his chest feeling light.
He took the Hallows out of the bag sitting next to him, that he'd packed when he'd arrived in his flat that morning. He pulled them into his lap. The stone, the wand and the cloak. He ran the cloak through his fingers. It had been his for so long…
"You know it's only in moments of imbalance that we can hand those out." Mulberry commented and Harry looked at him.
"It kinda mentions it in The Three Brothers. They used wand magic and cross the stream. They "cheated Death" using a method new to the world. The Old Religion was more common before then, but that was dying out."
Harry vaguely remembered the term from History of Magic, but Mulberry didn't pause to clarify,
"Time before that was when Humans began to harness natural magic, and so on. When ever something drastic happened. I reckon Annan was given access by the sharp improvement in Modern Medicine, she just waited until someone malleable survived what she otherwise wouldn't."
He fell quiet at the thought of the young girl who'd just been a pawn in events.
"What happened to her?" He asked.
"Annan? She left to go sulk somewhere."
"Heaven." Death replied with a sigh, leaning back on his hands.
"Heaven?" Harry asked, "But… she killed a lot of people."
Death huffed. "Yeah. My dad would probably have sent her South, but…" Mulberry paused, looking out over the skyline, "We are in a position of power, and I don't mean supernatural power. Annan took a young girl and destroyed her, when she was supposed to look after her. Teach and guide her. She took something special and twisted it. And I didn't want the girl to suffer because of a childish feud."
Harry couldn't think of anything to say in the silence that followed.
"Do three brothers always crop up?" He asked dryly and the tone lightened as Mulberry chuckled.
"Nah. Usually they would be dispersed over time, or, if the Death Cheater was worthy of being a Master, they would be chosen. But there is always a choice."
"To unite the Hallows."
Harry looked around sharply.
Death gave a small smile.
"The choice to return to life after their first Death. To keep fighting."
Harry remembered the empty train station and Dumbledore.
"But-" He stopped, thinking the encounter through.
"Dumbledore is a good man." Mulberry commented, "When I asked him to talk to you, he didn't hesitate."
"Why him?" Harry asked, "Why not you?"
Mulberry shrugged. "I thought it would be best to have that sort of conversation with a friend."
Harry nodded and held out the wand and stone clasped in hie right hand. Mulberry took them with a nostalgic smile. When Harry held out the cloak however Mulberry shook his head.
"Nah. You can keep hold of that. I can pick it up from you later. I know where you live."
"But, what about-"
"Don't worry, you are no longer the Master of Death." Mulberry grinned, "It really is that easy. The Hallows are no longer united."
Harry nodded, letting the cloak slide through his fingers like he had all those years ago on Christmas Day in the common room with Ron. He'd been so young then.
"If you don't mind, I may pop in occasionally." Mulberry said, stretching, "It's not often I can have honest conversations with decent, living blokes. Don't worry, I'll always bring a mouse or some other rodent to take the hit."
Harry grinned, "Yeah… where did that idea come from?"
Mulberry grinned cheekily. "Ah, now that's a funny story and a 'alf. Not that I found it funny at the time. So it was before I took over from Dad…"
The sun was high in the sky when Death had left with a smile and a casual wave. Harry stood on his doorstep looking around at the busy street, bustling on as if a war hadn't raged in the city only a few days ago. He set off, meandering in the direction of a tower, not feeling like apparating, deciding to enjoy the forty minute walk.
He didn't feel all that different. He supposed he could say that he felt lighter, but reasoned that this was due to the mental relief and weight off his shoulders rather than due to an actual physical change.
He didn't feel nervous. He had wondered if he would feel paranoid once he could actually die that anything could happen. But now, on this sunny afternoon, he just felt at peace. He knew it wouldn't, couldn't, last long. Not if he continued with the Avengers, which he intended to do. There would be battles, and life threatening situations, but wild thestrals wouldn't be able to keep him away. He supposed that Hermione had always been right about his 'hero-thing'. At least now he wasn't alone.
He thought about his PI business. It had taken somewhat of a back burner after the initial attack on Manhattan and he'd cut down on his number of cases since he'd gotten involved with the tower. He'd been able to cheat and use Jarvis for quite a substantial part of his legwork but his customers had been left hanging the last week or so, since he died and he figured that he should really catch up. But that was work for another day.
And of course he had that dinner with Dudley waiting for him next week. They'd set it up a fortnight ago, with plenty of time for them to mentally prepare for meeting each other after all these years. Harry wondered now if he should mess with his physical age for this meeting or just grit his teeth roll with it. He couldn't really find it in him to get worked up over it at the moment. Not now.
Harry found himself in the shadow of the tower. He looked up at the shiny 'A' still standing proudly on the side. The street was quieter than maybe it would normally be on a weekday, but the road and the surrounding buildings had been repaired by a 'crack wizard squad' as Clint had termed it. It wasn't quite as simple as that of course. They had only gotten involved because of the heavy wizard presence in the battle and were now kicking up stink about how public the whole thing had been. Ron was apparently caught up in the bureaucracy, backed surprisingly by Fury, who was representing the S.H.I.E.L.D side of things. Both were determined to keep Harry away from the heat of it, for very different reasons, but Harry was still appreciative.
He was standing where he had last died he realised, though the blood was long washed away. It was a fairly normal section of pavement, nothing that particularly stood out. It was maybe cleaner than it had been last time he'd stood here since it was art of the area the cleaning crew and blasted through. There was a distinct lack of chewing gum adhered to it.
He glanced around, letting his gaze settle on the coffee shop across the street. He spotted a familiar looking red head sat in the window; head down over some papers on the table before her. He glanced back at the tower. As long as he was back in time for the Lord of the Rings marathon, it should be fine. He still hadn't had that hot chocolate.
A/N Thank you for following me on what I realise is a two year journey. Seriously your reviews and follows and favourites which on one hand were... really quite terrifying were also kicks to get a move on and giving me an insight on how you viewed my work. This was written through one of my major developmental stages as a writer which is probably obvious if you go back and read the first chapter.
Also, those who took shots at guessing the titles, you are awesome, take a virtual cookie! For those who are interested, here is the full list:
When Harry met Tony
When Harry met Sally
Saving Hermione Weasley
Saving Private Ryan
Where Harry Dares
Where Eagles Dare
The Usual Avengers
The Usual Suspects
Two Funerals and a Battle
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Wizard and I
Withnall and I
Meet the Weasleys
Meet the Fockers
George and the Potions Lab
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Revenge of the Professor
Revenge of the Sith
Men in Robes
Men in Black
Back to Hogwarts
Back to the Future
Death can Wait
Heaven can Wait
Pestilence: Patient Zero
Biohazard: Patient Zero
Battle of Manhattan
Battle of New York
I am Edrea
I am Wrath
And Now for Something Vaguely Similar
And Now for Something Completely Different
The Hallows Thief
The Book Thief
Seriously guys, you've been great. And this closes the longest piece of fiction I have ever finished.