Chapter I. Celestial Bungle.
It was a very bad day to be a Harry Potter. Well, Halloweens have always sucked for him, but this one surely beat all the records. Being selected as the fourth Champion in a Twi-Wizard Tournament, infamous for it's fatality rate, frankly sucked. Being praised or vilified by every single Hogwards student, with the exception of Hermione, was even worse.
Still, Harry somehow managed to get to sleep.
Needless to say, when he almost instantaneously woke up and didn't recognize the place around him, he was not amused in the slightest.
"What the hell?", he grumbled, looking for his wand. Which he didn't find. That's it, he decided, this day officially goes down as The Worst Halloween Ever.
"Please do not worry, Mr. Potter", said a melodical female voice from behind him. "You are in no danger here."
Harry whipped around to discover... he was really at a loss of words to describe whom he did discover. The girl was young, and yet feeled incredibly ancient.
"Who are you?" He asked warily. "And where is this place?"
"I will explain everything in a few minutes, Mr. Potter. But first of all", she sighed and suddenly bowed to him. "On behalf of the Celestial Department of Love I bring you our sincere regret for our mistake. Please feel assured that our Department will do everything in it's power to compensate any losses suffered on your behalf."
"What? What is happening? I don't understand what you are speaking about at all!", Harry exclaimed in shock.
"That's not surprising", the girl stood straight and smiled. "But as I said, I'm going to explain the situation in a few minutes. If you would please follow me?"
Harry was really at a loss. Celestial Departments? Some ancient-looking girls expressing their regrets for their mistakes? What the hell was happening here? Still, the girl promised to explain, so he followed her into what looked like a modern office. The only thing out of place in the office was the window, which glowed and let the light in - but somehow obscured everything behind it. The girl motioned Harry in the direction of visitor's chair, which he immediately occupied, while the girl sat behind the office desk and solemnly looked at Harry.
"All right, Mr. Potter. I really owe you an explanation. This may sound strange to you, but you are currently sleeping in your Hogwarts dormitory. It is only your soul that is present here. And to answer your next question, 'here' is the place that you mortals call the Heavens."
"I'm dead?" asked Harry in shock.
"NO! No, no, no, you are perfectly alive. We just took a liberty and invited you here for a talk regarding your situation. It is best done when the person is asleep or deep in a trance. Frankly, we prefer the trance, it's always easier to persuate the person in question that they are not simply dreaming. Unfortunately you do not practise any meditation techniques that could bring you into a trance-like state, so we have to do with what we have. Do you follow me so far?"
"I think so", answered Harry carefully. "So are you an angel then?"
The girl shrugged. "You could call me that. Or a dozen other names actually. Is it important for you?"
After careful consideration, Harry shook his head. "No, I suppose not."
"Very well. Now that you have calmed down somewhat, let me explain the situation that warranted your summons here." The girl sighed. "As I said, this is Heavens. An organization of higher beings, whose purpose is to make sure the mortal world runs smoothly and efficiently. That's the theory at least. The Heavens are divided into numerous Departments, which are responsible for various aspects of human life. As I said before, I work for the Department of Love, which is where you are currently located."
Harry looked around the office sceptically. It was a pretty plain and orginary-looking office. It definitely did not look like an Office of the Celestial Department of Love. Or any other Celestial Department for that matter. It rather looked like some mid-level executive position office in a commercial company.
"Hey, don't give me that look!", exclaimed the girl indignantly. "I know this place doesn't look like the thing, but we are working here, you know. Not making love with each other! There's nothing surprising that a place that's used to work looks like... well like a workplace."
Harry shrugged. "I just expected something... well, I don't know. This makes sense in a way, I guess."
"Thank you", replied the girl with a touch of venom in her voice. "Now that we have that established... where was I?"
"You were explaining why I was summoned here."
"Ah yes. Well, your case actually concerns three Departments, so I reckon I should explain everything from the start. The story starts with the Department of Death. About forty years ago, they got royally pissed off with some mortal, Thomas something Riddle, who had found some ancient method of achieving immortality. Don't ask me about the method, I wouldn't tell you even if I knew, and I don't know anyway, they keep such things pretty hush-hush. So they tried their usual tricks when dealing with wannabe immortals, except nothing worked, apparently the guy is pretty tough."
Harry nodded. Indeed, Lord Voldemort was "pretty tough", second only to Dumbledore - except Dumbledore was not getting any younger. Meanwhile, the girl continued.
"So then the Death guys finally remembered they are not alone here and requested the Department of Fate. And lo and behold, they get the official response that this guy is a part of one of the Fate's Patterns."
"What is a Fate's Pattern?" asked Harry.
"Oh, indeed, you don't know. Let's see... imagine your fate as a single thread, extending from the past and into the future. Now, it's actually much more complex than a single thread as your fate may develop in hundreds and thousands different directions, so it's not a single thread with a single fate, but rather a bunch of threads for all of your potential fates, and those threads are splitting, merging, interconnecting... you name it, they do it. And that's just your fate, but there are other people involved as well, so taken together, that's actually a really big mess which does not usually make any sense. Unless there's a Pattern. You see, sometimes a bunch of threads from different people gets interwoven together into a single huge knot, and there's only a limited number of potential threads leaving that knot for each person. This is what's called a Fate Pattern, and let me tell you, it's mighty difficult, if not outright impossible, to manipulate the fate of someone whose fate is part of a Pattern. Do you understand?"
Harry nodded slowly. He was not sure he understood everything, but he got the general idea. He also shivered slightly, for he had a very strong suspicion whose other fate was part of that particular Pattern.
"Excellent. You are a bright kid, you know. So there you have it, Death demanding that this Riddle guy is put down for good, and Fates are not budging a bit. They apparently had big plans for this Pattern, again not sure what it is that they are hoping to achieve. Either way, apart from this Thomas Riddle, there were a number of other people whose fate was part of that Pattern, and most important of that people was you."
Harry nodded again. Well, he saw it coming. It was Halloween after all.
"And that's where our Department came in."
"I see... What?"
"I say, that's where our Department came in. You see, the Fates ruled that you need a soul-mate. A person who will love you truly, and will be loved by you, and this love will somehow allow you to defeat this Riddle, so that the Pattern is resolved properly and the guys in Death can finally get his soul and get out of Fates hair. That was the general idea at least."
Harry was positively dreading the direction this talk was taking. Really, a soul-mate, whatever it is, was probably the last thing on his mind at the moment. He still had the Tournament to survive.
"And we... well, we messed things up a bit."
"Messed things up... how?"
The girl was positively fidgeting now. The sight of a fidgeting angel didn't calm down Harry at all... quite the opposite. It was his fate the girl was speaking about, for Merlin's sake!
"Well, you see, we had this list of candidates. Mostly Hogwarts girls of course. I mean, at least I removed more exotic choices, like this Draco Malfoy..."
"WHAT?! You people wanted to give me Malfoy as a soul-mate?" Harry shouted, jumping to his feet in indignation.
"Calm down! Please calm down! Of course not!", the girl pleaded. "We just have some shippers with exotic tastes on stuff. Don't worry, such obvious mismatches were removed on the very first screening."
"It's easy for you to say! It's much harder to actually calm down when you people are trying to match me up with Malfoy of all people!"
"Listen, we are not trying to match you up with Malfoy! Your file does mention that you are heterosexual after all! So all potential male soulmates where removed from the list immediately, there's no need to worry about them. Please calm down, there's no Malfoy or Snape there..."
"SNAPE?!" Harry bellowed. "Next thing you tell me, Voldemort was on the list as well?!" He froze, as the girl looked positively shifty at his words. Harry fell back into his chair and covered his face with his hands. "So he was... Oh sweet Merlin, what did I do to deserve this?"
"Listen, Harry, you've done nothing wrong, and you definitely did not deserve this", the girl spoke softly, trying to prevent another outburst. "We actually removed all males, and most females that you simply would not properly connect with. We also removed all girls with too much of an age gap. The resulting list was quite short actually, only ten girls total."
Harry snorted wearily. "Short indeed. Anyway, what do you want now? Do I at least get to choose from that list?"
"Erm...", the girl was fidgeting again. "We would gladly give you this opportunity, all things considered. But you see, this is exactly where we bungled up a bit. There was supposed to be the final review, but then there was some misunderstanding, and some papers lost between offices, and we kinda submitted the list to the Fates without review."
Harry shrugged. "So what now, my soul-mate will be chosen by the Fates?"
"No, Harry, you did not understand", the girl mumbled. "We were supposed to find you the soul-mate. The Fates would then integrate her thread into the Pattern. But since we submitted the entire list... well, I'm really sorry, but now you have all ten of them as your soul-mates."