A/N: You guys are very pursuasive. So here's another crossover. Slash with Cas/Harry
The hospital room was quiet but for the rhythmic whirring that had been the background noise for the past week. Curtains were pulled apart to let in some sun. The door was closed to shut out noise from the corridor. A nurse had dropped by over an hour ago to check up on her patient, making some markings on the chart by the foot of the bed before leaving. Lazy Monday afternoon.
"I'm bored," Harry groaned into the window that he was squishing his face against.
There was no one to hear him.
He turned around and scowled at the bed.
What he saw would have freaked him right out a week ago. Now he was just plain frustrated and bored to tears. How many days was he supposed to hang around here, stuck in the same room with his own comatose body?
He shuffled to the bed and sat down on the edge of it. He saw himself under the covers, unresponsive with a tube stuck down his throat, bandages around his head, and bags of IV hung on metal stands. He leaned over his head. "Hey. Wake up," he tried for the tenth time that day. "Wake up or die." But he neither woke up nor died. He just lay there, cheeks sunken, lips chapped and skin ashen.
He couldn't be sure what had happened. He couldn't remember anything. One day he simply woke and found himself out of his body. He couldn't talk to anyone, no one else could see him, and he couldn't escape this godforsaken room, try as he might. He had watched his friends drop in every day, either to cry or to simply stare. He hated that most of all. He wanted to tell Ron and Hermione that it was going to be alright. He wanted to hug Teddy tight to make him smile again. He wanted to wake up for Molly and Arthur.
It hurt so much to see them that way.
He sat back and exhaled shakily. "Please die…"
He wouldn't mind disappearing. Yes, death is scary. But to live like this, to see the pain around him… One week was enough. A week of tears and somber words. A week of grave doctors and busy nurses. A week of being alone. He would never have imagined that it could hurt this much.
The door opened quietly, prompting him to glance over his shoulder.
He frowned at the unfamiliar visitor.
The man at the door wore a tan trench coat over his white shirt and dark tie, even though it was the middle of summer. He took a silent step forward before closing the door behind him. His dull eyes rested on the bed and he stood still for a moment, examining the bandaged figure under the covers.
Harry stared at him, waiting for a spark of recognition to strike him. It didn't. That irked him. Why had a random man been let into his room? He wasn't on display. He got up to his feet and folded his arms against his chest. "What are you looking at?" he grumbled.
The man didn't acknowledge him.
He wasn't surprised.
No one acknowledged him. He harrumphed and stood guard over his body.
The man slowly approached the bed. He had slid his hands into his pockets and his steps were unhurried, as though he had all the time in the world. Once he was closer, he took another minute to examine what injuries were visible under all the tubes and bandages. He apparently didn't like what he saw by the way he pursed his lips.
Harry felt very uncomfortable after realizing that the man hadn't blinked once the entire time he had been in the room. He stepped closer to his body and rested a hand on his own hand, trying to reassure himself that nothing weird was going to happen. "Go away," he tried. "You can't be here."
The man in the trench coat did not go away. He sat on the edge of the bed instead.
Harry immediately bristled. "It's not a free show," he snapped.
He gasped, withdrawing his hand and jerking backwards into the wall.
The man glanced at him briefly. "You do not have much time."
It didn't matter. Time didn't matter. Not right now. This man could hear him. This man could see him. Harry swallowed hard. Then, without warning, he stuck his hand out, striking the man's shoulder. "Oh…" He usually just went through other people, unable to touch them. "You… Do you know who I am?"
He sank to the ground, barely balancing on his heels. "Thank goodness." He buried his head under his arms. He wasn't crazy after all. Maybe things would be alright now. Maybe…
He quickly lifted his eyes. "Wait. What do you mean?" he exclaimed. "Time?"
The man gestured behind him vaguely. "The Reaper is making his rounds."
Harry's jaw dropped. "Reaper?" He looked up at his unconscious body. "But I… That's not… I can't… Wh-why?"
The man tilted his head to the side. "A moment ago you wanted to die."
"You heard me?"
"Well, that was… that was before you showed up, wasn't it?" Harry tried to defend his hasty resolution from earlier.
The man frowned slightly. "Did I change your mind?" he murmured.
"Of course!" For the first time in a week, Harry was feeling energized and not the least bit bored. "No one could see me or talk to me. I thought I was going insane! But you!" He jumped up to his feet. "You can see me! This changes everything…" He paused. "What's your name?"
"How come you can see me?"
"I am an angel."
"And I am merely a spectator."
Harry gaped at him. "You're going to watch me die?"
"This is your fight."
There was a sudden chill in the air, prompting Harry to whip his head towards the closed door. What he saw made him shrink back. A figure in tattered grey robes, scythe in one skeletal hand and faceless under the shadow of a billowing hood. The Reaper glided into the room, its silence almost deafening, sucking all other sounds out.
It stopped in front of Harry.
Lifting an arm slightly, it held out its hand.
Harry steeled himself and shook his head while clutching at his body. "No."
The Reaper remained motionless for a second that dragged on for a few moments too long. Then it retracted its hand. Without fanfare, it glided away.
Harry gaped after it, baffled. As soon as it disappeared into the corridor, he turned to the angel. "Is that it?" he blurted out.
Castiel shook his head. "Hardly." He studied the young man, his brows knitted together ever so slightly. "You are not scared of dying?"
Harry started to relax his tensed shoulders. "I'm… I mean, of course I'm scared," he faltered. "Just… why was that so easy? Can I just keep saying no to him?"
"The Reaper will become more and more insistent. Death is merciful at times, but has very little patience."
"I wish they'd talk in here," Harry complained while trying to peek out the doorway to lip-read a grave conversation between Molly and a Healer. Whenever there was bad news, the Healers always spoke to her outside the room. He huffed and turned to Castiel who was seated on a stool by the bed. "Do you know what they are saying?"
"They are discussing your condition."
"Yes, I get that. But what about my condition?"
Harry shook his head in defeat. Talking to this angel was ridiculous. "Say, do you watch a lot of people die?" It must be eerie to see souls just walk off with a Reaper. "Are you an angel of death?"
For the first time, he saw Castiel flustered, although the unexpressive man's notion of fluster merely meant slightly widened eyes and a small shift in posture. "No, I… I am not Death himself," he explained carefully. He averted his eyes at the thought of it, a corner of his mouth twitching upwards. "I am an angel of Heaven. Not Death."
"I see…" Harry didn't get it at all, but he nodded in any case. There were a lot of things he didn't understand. He should just chalk this up in that category as well. Besides, he had more important things to worry about. If the Healer was giving bad news to Molly, that must mean that he didn't have much time left to get better. He had spent the better part of the day trying to wake himself up. Having Castiel stare at him solemnly did not help much, but he couldn't very well tell an angel to shove off, could he?
A familiar chill overcame him. "Oh no," he exhaled before skittering backwards towards his body and sitting down on the bed. What would happen today?
The Reaper glided into the room, once again pushing down all sound until only heavy silence remained. This time it did not approach Harry directly. It seemed to want to survey the room. It floated towards Castiel, its tattered grey robe trailing on the floor delicately. Neither of them spoke. Instead, they examined each other with mutual respect. When the angel was beside the Reaper, it was clear that he was more similar to the creature than to humans.
After a minute, the Reaper turned to Harry, holding out its hand again.
Harry shook his head like before. "No."
But this time the Reaper was not taking no for an answer. It reached out and grasped the young man's arm in a bony grip.
A sharp trill sounded from the bed, scaring Harry into lurching away, towards the Reaper.
The door was thrown open and three nurses ran in, one of them carrying a tray of potions and needles. Harry understood as they ran right through him. He was dying.
"No!" He tried to jerk away from the Reaper by pulling his arm back. Behind him he could hear the nurses quickly talking to the Healer who had slipped into the room right after them. It was suddenly too loud. Too chaotic. He tried to hold on, digging his heels onto the floor and grasping fruitlessly at anything, just anything, with his free hand. But he kept getting dragged further away from himself and the chaos. The Reaper was already halfway out the door.
There he saw Molly, half-hidden behind the skeletal figure.
She wasn't crying.
She had her hands clasped at her chest, tears welled up in her soft brown eyes that had already seen enough pain. She looked older, pinched lines at her eyes and grays sprinkled through her frazzled hair. Her cheeks were flushed and her lips pale. But she wasn't crying. She was resigned. She lost hope.
He couldn't bear it.
"I SAID NO!" He yanked his arm hard.
His wrist slid out of the Reaper's hand.
"I've got a pulse," the Healer announced, prompting a collective sigh from the nurses.
Harry stared at Molly as panic overcame him. He can't die yet. He had to at least say goodbye. The Reaper glided away, leaving him to 'live' out another day. "Molly?" He had so much to say. "Please, don't-" He reached out to her. But he struck a barrier that stopped him from crossing the threshold. "Please." Frustration slammed into him, prompting him to beat his fist against the barrier. Hasn't she been through enough? Did she have to watch him die as well? She deserved better. She deserved happiness, not agony. Why now?
Harry stirred at the sound of his name. The loud rushing sound in his head ebbed away as awareness returned. He blinked at the tiles under him. He was barely supporting himself on his hands and knees. The room was empty. "Is he coming back?" he mumbled, already knowing the answer.
"Yes." Castiel was seated beside Harry, shoes planted on the tiles, knees bent and his arms resting on them casually. "You are very stubborn."
"It's what I do best," Harry muttered. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing. He was having a tough time with it. "When?"
"I do not know."
"But I can fight him off again, right?"
Castiel rubbed his stubble absently. "You keep saying this," he noted. "But why are you fighting? Do you enjoy fighting?"
Harry gingerly shifted so he was sitting cross-legged. "Of course I don't." He had fought enough for three lifetimes already. "I just… Well, I can't die yet, that's all."
"You change your mind so easily."
"I'm allowed to do that. This is my life."
"I'll die when I'm ready."
"Today you are not ready?"
Harry shook his head. "Not yet."
"Will you be ready tomorrow?"
"I think I understand now."
Harry tore his gaze reluctantly away from Teddy and Andromeda to Castiel standing beside him. "What do you understand?"
"You are not afraid of dying. You are afraid for everyone you are leaving behind."
He thought for a moment before nodding. "I guess so."
"You love them very much."
"Do they know that you love them very much as well?"
Harry raked a hand through his hair, appearing troubled. "I hope so… I mean, I thought I had more time." He perched on the windowsill and turned his attention to his godson again. The young boy was being unusually quiet and sticking close to his grandmother. Since visiting hours had started, a steady stream of friends had been coming into his room to hold his hand, say a few words and shed a few tears. "It's today, isn't it? I won't get a third chance to say no."
Castiel didn't say as he watched the young boy wipe his wet cheeks angrily against his grandmother's long skirt. "Are you happy that I'm here?" he murmured.
"Mhm." Harry brushed at his eyes. He didn't like seeing Teddy this way. He pushed up onto his feet and turned away, looking out the window instead. "I'm really glad." He cleared his throat to get rid of the lump. "Even if you're a figment of my imagination."
"I am real."
"I am. Don't you believe me?"
Harry smirked drily. "I believe you."
Castiel nodded once. "Good. Because I am real."
It was just past one in the morning when the Reaper appeared for a third time.
Harry sat on the bed like before, holding onto his body to reassure himself that everything was going to be… okay.
The Reaper glided forward and extended its hand.
With unparalleled speed, the bony hand shot forward, piercing Harry's chest.
He slumped as a harsh chill drowned out all other sensation in him. He had no strength, no warmth. He looked up pleadingly, only to stare into blank black abyss instead of human eyes. The sallow grey skull showed no emotion. The hand twisted inside his chest, gripping his heart. He gasped as he felt his life leaving him. This was the end. He jerked when Death pulled at his heart, forcing him onto his feet. He was dragged out of the room, through the Healers and nurses who were frantically trying to restart his unresponsive body in the bed.
The hospital faded away as he was lifted upwards off the ground. He couldn't struggle anymore. Instead he felt a terrible weight inside him, making him limp. He closed his eyes. So this is what dying is like. He concentrated on keeping calm. Everybody died. Now he would see his parents and Sirius and Remus and he shouldn't feel bad for himself for missing Ron and Hermione and Teddy and it was going to okay and he should just let go because this was how everybody's life ended at one point or another… He kept rising higher and higher.
Suddenly a loud clap of thunder broke his ascent, jolting him angrily. He threw his eyes open, just in time to see the Reaper look to the side, its hood shifting soundlessly.
Then he dropped.
Faster than ever, he dropped down.
He reached up, grappling at nothing but air. His stomach plummeted when he realized that he wasn't going to heaven after all. He was supposed to meet his parents. He was supposed to die and go to heaven. Cold wind blasted against the back of his neck as he fell and fell and fell. He tried fruitlessly to hold on to something… Anything…
And warmth enveloped him.
His fingers grabbed onto rough feathers. "Ah," he yelped in surprise before letting go. But he didn't fall. He wasn't heavy. He was light as air instead. He was floating.
He gaped at Castiel. "What's happening?" He looked above him and saw white. He looked below him and saw black. "Am I going to hell?"
His chin was nudged up, prompting him to lift his head again.
"You are one of a kind, Mr. Potter…"
Harry woke up in a heavy daze, finding himself surrounded by unfamiliar faces.
"Welcome back, Mr. Potter," a Healer mumbled.
He smiled tiredly. Not hell after all. Just not heaven yet.
Castiel glanced upwards at the disgruntled Reaper who was hovering without a soul in its clutches. "My apologies for interfering."
'You said you only wished to watch, Castiel.'
He simply slunk away with his hands in his pockets instead of answering the Reaper. At least he had the sense to appear sheepish.