Tea for Three
A/N: This is a crossover with Harry Potter and DiscWorld, by Terry Pratchett, but you don't really need to know much, if anything, about the latter. (Though, it might be a bit funnier, if at all, to those who do.) And, needless to say, I don't own either one of those (rather lucrative) properties. See notes at the end as to the genesis of this craziness.
"So, tell me, Harry, does being the Master of Death have any benefits? Well, aside from making you even more famous, that is?"
"You mean aside from getting me great discounts at Wizarding shops worldwide?" he smirked, which was answered by a poke in the ribs and a smack on the shoulder. The latter, especially, reminded him of their two years together so long ago.
Harry glanced at his watch, smiled mischievously, and motioned toward the castle. "Come, Hermione my love, and I shall show you the one and only true… benefit, if you will. Might not be that, really, but it is entertaining at the least."
Leading her by the hand into the castle, Harry adamantly refused to tell Hermione what he was up to. And this was despite her cajoling, demanding, begging, threatening, pleading, and giving him her patented brown-eyed-sad-puppy-dog-eyes look… which was the one that nearly always worked, but fortunately they were at the door to his quarters by then.
Hermione had run into Harry, quite literally as they both rounded the end of adjacent aisles, in the home decorating department of Harrods a couple of weeks previously. They'd renewed their friendship, which both had always missed ever since her parents yanked her out of Hogwarts at the end of their second year and shipped her off to Salem Witch's Institute. (Still an all-girls school, much to her father's delight. He didn't know about Salem Wizard's Institute right next door which shared many facilities and activities.) It seemed the Grangers didn't see any humour in her being petrified for three weeks. And though the pair had kept in touch by letter for a few years, even those had tapered off in the past two or three. The two friends had dinner, and being nineteen (and horny, though were both virgins until that night) she had dragged him back to the flat she'd just moved into and had her wicked way with him... repeatedly... for the next several days. Fortunately it was summer, so Harry wasn't due back to teach DADA for a few weeks yet; and it was nearly two weeks before they got to the castle, or even left the flat for that matter. Harry reckoned it was a good thing they'd been in Central London as there were a lot of delivery foods available.
Arriving inside his apartments, the Green-Eyed-Hero-of-the-Wizarding-World rang a small bell on a side table and they were joined by a small female elf. "Is The Great Wizard Harry Potter Sir (Hermione could literally hear the capitalization in her name for the man) ready for his tea?"
"Yes, Tipsy, I am quite ready, and my other friend should be here momentarily," he replied, glancing at his watch again," then added, "and, of course, we'll be three for tea today." He smiled down at her, the little elf popped away, and Harry led his lover to a couch where they took seats, their legs pressed together hip to knee and arms around each other.
To his paramour, he said, "Tipsy's name used to be Winky, but she was set free, given clothes that is, just before my fourth year by a real arse who worked for the Ministry. He subsequently was killed, but that aside, she could only find work here at Hoggy Warty. She wanted to serve a family again, and because she was so distraught she started drinking butterbeer… a lot of butterbeer, for an elf."
"But," Hermione protested, "there's almost no alcohol in that, less than one percent, if memory serves."
"Ah, but think of the difference between your or my body weight and that of an elf," Harry smiled at his friend. She got an enlightened look in her eyes, but he went on. "Actually there are some other ingredients that affect them as well. Seems that the butter mixed with the types of sugar and some other flavourings in it get together and react like strong booze does in us. Poor thing was up to five or six bottles a day, the equivalent of you drinking most of a litre of Firewhisky every day for weeks on end. It nearly killed her, till my friend Dobby brought it to my attention."
She interjected, "Oh, the poor dear; but she looks so good now, and even seems quite normal, for an elf anyway."
"Oh, she is, believe me, and she's not afraid to let me know when I skip a meal or stay up too late. She's a bit too much like a mum sometimes, but I love her like the friend she is, so we have a strange relationship that works."
"I thought you said her name was Winky, so why did you call her Tipsy?"
He rubbed the back of his neck and looked sheepish for a moment. "When she was drinking so heavily, that's what the other elves started calling her. When I stepped in to help, she demanded that that was her name now, and won't answer to anything else. She finally told me, not long ago, that it helps her remember what almost happened to her."
Looking even more abashed, he continued, "Now, you know I believe the same as you when it comes to slavery and such. I'd never willingly harm another creature that wasn't trying to harm me or mine. But I had to bond Tipsy in order to save her life." She opened her mouth to say something, but his finger on her lips stopped her, as he added, "You see, when an elf has been bonded, over time they lose the ability to live for very long without a bond to a family. She's bonded to the Potter family, and though she won't take pay, I make sure she has money to keep herself in uniforms "Fit for serving such an important wizard"," he chuckled, "her words not mine, and anything else she might need or want."
Hermione laughed with him, and at that moment, there was a knock on the door. At Harry calling out for the person to "Get yer arse in here", there was suddenly a figure standing in front of one of the chairs across from them. She was no longer laughing; she was in fact gasping for air and very nearly hyperventilated. Harry gently rubbed circles on her back to help calm her. He smiled as his other friend drew back his cowl and took a seat.
Tipsy popped in with a tea service just then, bowed to all three, and left after Harry smiled warmly at her. Her answering smile was just as warm, and the look in her eyes was just short of worship, Hermione noticed, despite her active state of shock.
Speaking to the newcomer, Harry said, "She's not normally quite this excitable, at least as I recall, and from what I've seen the past couple of weeks, but some surprises few can be immune to," he said to the other with a smirk and laughter in his voice. "In fact, as you might recall, when you and I first met, my reaction was much the same." The latecomer just nodded, looking on interestedly at the lovely young woman and her new/old beau.
Finally, Hermione regained, somewhat, the power of speech as she turned to the love of her life. "Th… that's…" she pointed in the general direction of the one across from them, her hand waving about wildly. "You're having tea with…?" She waved the hand again.
With a fond smile for both of his guests, though she could hardly be called that any longer, Harry replied, "Yes; Hermione Granger, meet Death; Death, this is my long-time friend and love, Hermione. Both nodded to each other, though she did so a bit jerkily. Harry turned to her, and told her, "We met just after I separated Voldie from his head and soul. He came by a couple of days later to thank me. He'd had a devil of a time, if you'll pardon the pun, of keeping the books straight, so to speak, after I banished Snake-face the first time."
The figure across added, "MADE A RIGHT MESS OF THINGS, HE DID, AND FOR OVER SIXTEEN YEARS AT THAT. MUCH LONGER AND THE BOSS MIGHT HAVE BEGUN LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT. THOUGH, HMM, COME TO THINK ON IT, WE TRIED THAT BEFORE SO I COULD HAVE A VACATION A COUPLE OF TIMES. DIDN'T WORK OUT SO WELL. I'M STILL PICKING UP THE PIECES OF THE MESS MY GRANDDAUGHTER MADE THE LAST TIME SHE TOOK OVER." The blue eyes, or rather sparks in the eye sockets glowed brighter as he said that in his deep voice which seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
The poor young woman shook her head, gazing in horrified wonder at the… being, she supposed was the proper nomenclature, sitting calmly with her friend… speaking of which, Harry had called this… being his friend as well. Her jaw moved up and down, uncharacteristically, for a moment, before she turned to Harry again, and asked, "But, Harry… my love… how can you be friends with…" she trailed off not really wanting to offend Him… or whatever he/it was.
"Death?" Harry finished for her. At her emphatic nod, he told her, "Well, when you think of it, we do have a lot in common. Now, contrary to what a lot might think, and many do I assure you, I am not the Master of Death, as in He-Who-Reaps-Souls, but rather the master of the state of death, more or less. Turning to his other friend as he picked up a cup, he asked, "One sugar or two today?"
"OH, MAKE IT THREE TODAY, HARRY, I'VE GIVEN UP ON MY DIET SINCE ALBERT STARTED LAUGHING AT ME ABOUT IT." Aside to Hermione he added, "HE'S MY BUTLER AND MANSERVANT. BLOODY OLD FART… CAN'T KEEP A CIVIL TONGUE IN HIS HEAD, AND NEVER COULD. IT'S JUST SO HARD TO FIND GOOD HELP THESE DAYS, HARRY, AND YOU KEEP THAT IN MIND IN THE FUTURE."
"Oh?" The wizard raised an eyebrow. "Do you have something to share today, Death?" He smirked at the other.
"OH, NOTHING SPECIFIC, MY YOUNG FRIEND, AS ALBUS WOULD SAY. NOW THERE IS ONE SOUL I WAS HAPPY TO TAKE BACK, ALMOST AS MUCH AS RIDDLE. DAMNED OLD FOOL AND HIS SCHEMES; ALWAYS DID PLAY THINGS TOO CLOSE TO THE VEST."
Again, or was that still, Hermione's jaw was hanging open, and Harry, being a gentleman (on occasion), reached over and with one finger pushed up on it. She snapped it shut and gave him a withering glare in thanks. Again, Harry, being a gentleman (mostly), simply shrugged and grinned salaciously at her, to which she blushed, glancing at the figure across from them with a how-about-you-hurry-up-and-go-reap-some-souls look. She was summarily ignored, to her chagrin.
"But," she started again, "but… he was Dumbledore…" She trailed off once again as if that explained everything.
"Hermione," Harry said gently, "he was a great man in many way, but in his later years a lot of us who dealt with him frequently believe he had become way too enamoured with his own press, with his own image. He once told me he didn't care what the Ministry or the Prophet said about him, so long as they didn't take him off the Chocolate Frog cards. Personally I think he was working with a cracked cauldron, but I was one of the ones who suffered the most at his hands. That's all spilled potions now; spilled and long dried up, so let's just let it go. He was not as lily-white as many would say he was, but nor was he another dark lord. I guess he was just human." He grimaced at her and she nodded, agreeing tacitly to drop it; for now at least.
"So," Hermione turned brightly to the other figure in the room, "Mr Death, what do you and Harry talk about, erm, normally, that is? When you don't have anyone else here, that is. I mean, not that I know if you have ever had others here for these talks of yours; but when you are alone, just the two of you, I mean, what…" Harry's hand on her arm caused her to trail off. Again. The thought crossed her mind that trailing off was becoming a habit in present company.
"Erm, what? I mean, I beg your pardon…"
"JUST CALL ME DEATH, I DON'T LIKE TO STAND ON CEREMONY, AS THEY SAY IN THE STATES… WELL, I SUPPOSE THEY SAY THE SAME, PERHAPS IN DIFFERENT WAYS, ELSEWHERE."
"Fine," she replied, sounding a bit frustrated.
Harry and Death both looked amused, though she couldn't quite work out how a bare skull could express any emotion, but then a thought occurred to her. "Wait! Just… wait!" Though both men looked a bit confused (We're giving Him the benefit of the doubt on gender since His is a male skeleton, after all.) She ignored their looks, turned once more to Death, and asked in a demanding tone, "Did you say you have a granddaughter? I could have sworn you said your granddaughter mucked things up a bit for you… erm, earlier that is."
"WHY YES, I DO; LOVELY GIRL, MY SUSAN. I BELIEVE YOU KNOW THE PESKY CHILD, GOES BY THE NAME BONES HERE, THOUGH HER LAST NAME ON OUR HOME WORLD IS STO-HELIT.
"But… but how… how can you possibly have a gran…" She trailed off, again, while Death waited patiently for her to finish her question and Harry smirked, again. After a few moments Hermione finally pulled herself back together, cleared her throat and asked almost intelligibly, "How, sir, can you have a granddaughter? I mean, you're a skeleton, and I didn't even know Death had a wife. That's never been mentioned in any of the literature. And how can she live on two different worlds and have different last names, and... Er, sir. Not to be impertinent, or anything, but that all just doesn't make…" She trailed off, as was becoming usual just now.
Death waited a few beats to be sure she was done for now, before answering, and Harry saw the gleam in His sockets which meant He was up to a bit of mischief. "WELL, HERMIONE, SINCE AT YOUR AGE I'M SURE YOU ARE ACQUAINTED WITH THE BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES OF WHERE BABIES COME FROM, I ASSUME YOU MEAN HOW COULD I, AS TECHNICALLY A SKELETON, HAVE A CHILD. THE SHORT ANSWER IS THAT A GENTLEMAN DOES HAVE NEEEDS, EVEN AN ETERNAL ONE."
Hermione gaped at the being, turned a lovely shade of tomato red flapped her jaw a few more times, then did what any very intelligent young woman would do in such a situation: she fainted and fell back against the couch, out cold.
"You set her up for that, didn't you?"
"Yes, you. I'm reasonably certain your feet don't fit limbs," Harry snarked, good naturedly.
The only answer was a wheeze of laughter with that usual odd echoing sound associated with Death's voice.
Suddenly another voice was heard, "SQUEEEEK?" It inquired.
Harry replied, "Hi DoR*, good to see you. I'll let HIM explain, while I take Miss Granger into the bedroom. And NO wise-arsed comments from you two about that, either.
(*aka Death of Rats)
He was answered with, "WHO, US?/SQUEEEEEEK?" To which Harry just rolled his eyes and picked Hermione up from the couch tenderly in his arms. He'd have to tell her sometime in the future about Death adopting his daughter, Ysabell, and her running off with his one-time apprentice, Mort, and that they were Susan's parents, who had been killed not long after she was born. It was all just too funny, and it was all he could do not to drop his lover as he carried her to the bedroom, bridal style of course. At least his other friend had a great sense of humour, though DoR needed to work on his.
About an hour later, Hermione exited the bedroom, yawning and sleepily draped herself over Harry where he sat on the couch, kissing him soundly. She said, with another yawn, "Wow, I must have needed that nap after our talk earlier. I had the strangest dream…" she trailed off, again, though this time it was because Harry cut her off.
"Was it about coming back here for tea with my friend, Death?"
"Huh? Yes, but how could you…? That didn't really… No way! Oh Bloody Hell, Harry! Tell me I'm hallucinating and you didn't just confirm what I think I dreamt... or something like that."
"I've never lied to you, Hermione."
She fainted again, and Harry mumbled, "I think it's going to be a long evening." Then he smirked, picked her up again, and carried her back into the bedroom. Again. This time he closed the door behind him.
**End of insanity**
A/N: My friend and smart-arsed beta, Mike, ran across this in his files the other day, and mentioned it being (semi-)humorous, and that I should maybe resurrect, finish, and post it. Since I haven't actually written much of anything new lately, I figured, what the heck, why not. So here it is... in all its glory... Or not! Oh, and my thanks to the smart-arse for both digging this up and helping me get it whipped into shape.
Smart-arse beta note: What can I say? I'm a digital packrat and I figured that at least one of us might as well post something worthwhile. [grumbles about lousy, ungrateful muses running off to Tahiti]