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Death Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Chapter 2


Harry flew to Little Hangleton on his Firebolt, hanging low to the trees as he did.  Leaving his Firebolt where he had told Dumbledore it would be in his letter/last will and testament, he walked the remainder of the way to the old Riddle home under his invisibility cloak.  A short distance away he could see the Little Hangleton Cemetery, where Voldemort had returned, and where Cedric had died.  Fitting that he’ll meet his end here as well.  And fitting that I should as well.  Cedric’s death will finally be avenged, and the one who should have died to get him free will finally be dead.  He shook his head to clear it of the morbid thoughts running through it, and continued his slow progress to the house.  Getting closer, he discovered that the basement door was open.  He performed a simple scan for wards and found none.  He can’t be that stupidly arrogant, can he?  Carefully, he went down the stairs into the cellar.

As he passed a few Death Eaters along the way, being careful to breathe quietly as he passed, they showed no signs of recognizing that anything was amiss.  He carefully worked his way to through the floor, finding no sign of his nemesis.  He moved upstairs, down a hall, where he saw Nagini on the carpet in front of a chair.  The snake’s head rose, and it started to speak.  “Masster, there is …”  It never got any further, because Harry whispered “Reducto!”, and the beam struck the serpent, causing it to explode in a shower of meat.

Voldemort performed his fatal action then.  He stood to look in the direction that the beam came from, which gave Harry the time to whisper “Inhaesum Animus Diffindo Corpus!”  The silver beam burst from the end of the holly wand and struck Voldemort in the chest.  Harry felt himself ripped from his body as both his soul and Riddle’s were torn free of their earthly bonds.

“You foolish boy!  Do you know what you’ve done?” Riddle screamed as they sank through the floor, Riddle clawing fearfully at the wood planking as they passed through it.  Harry was intrigued to see the Death Eaters he’d passed by unconscious on the floor, and Aurors just now entering the building.  Before they disappeared into the ground, he heard Tonks scream, “HARRY!  No!

“I’ve defeated you, Tom.  The spell I cast binds my soul to yours and then separates both souls from their bodies.  I will now follow you to your destination.”

“You fool!” Riddle laughed.  “You’ve damned yourself to Hell, then!  At least I can enjoy knowing that you shall suffer the same torments that I will!”

“And I get to enjoy knowing that you won’t be around to destroy any more of my friends’ lives.  Your Death Eaters are being rounded up as we sink.  Tonks, Hermione, Ginny and all the rest can grieve and then get on with their lives.  I think I can deal with Hell, knowing that.  I lived with the Dursleys.  I’ve already spent time there.  I’m just going home, you son of a bitch.”

They landed roughly in a rather odorous place – the smell of sulphur was overwhelming.  They were rather quickly met by a few ugly things that were quite obviously demons.  Riddle screamed as they grabbed him and dragged him away, but Harry was more than a little surprised to see the ones around him looking at him with fear. One of them reached out to touch him, but quickly pulled back screaming in pain.  “How did you get here?” the others bellowed, pulling pitchforks and weapons and prodding him with them.

“Enough, just lead me where you want me to go,” he said with some annoyance.  They shuddered, and led him to a stable.  They pointed at a shovel, and into the stable.  He snorted when he saw what was in there.  “It actually smells better in there, guys.  Might as well go find your boss and ask him what he wants to do with me.”  He looked outside and found the ground hard, but still apparently soil.  “Well, let’s start out there.”  He walked outside and found a pitchfork.  “This should do.”  He began to fork the ground in places, breaking it up and turning it over.  He looked back inside, and guessed how much he had at the moment, then turned back to the ground.

Since there was no day or night where he was, and he didn’t get tired, he had no idea how long he’d been working when he’d finally finished working the area he’d chosen.  He looked back and realized that he’d just finished turning several acres of land.  “Huh.  Well, time to start shovelling shit,” he muttered.  Again, he began a tedious chore, spreading the manure the stable held in great abundance along the ground that he’d turned over.  When he’d finally emptied the stable – again, a great time later, but no way to measure – he turned back to the pitchfork and turned the manure into the soil, taking whatever time it took.

Finally standing and surveying his work, he grinned.  “Useless task it was, since I have no grass or flower seeds to spread, but then again, this place is about that sort of thing.”  Laughing, he walked back to the stable to return his tools.  Now he noticed that that there was a cloth bag along the side of the building.  Opening it, he found seeds of different kinds all mixed together inside.  “Huh.  Well, let’s see what thorny sort of things grow here from this seed.”  He began to spread the seed along the ground, not realizing that, as before, he had begun to hum, and even whistle as he went about his work.

When done, he looked back at the area.  “Now that was useless!” he laughed.  “No water to give the seed a chance to grow.  Well, I suppose I ought to scratch it in a bit, just to pretend I’m doing something.” He was halfway through his work of scratching the seed in with the tines of the pitchfork when he stopped.  “Why aren’t I tired?  Or thirsty?  I have to have been working at this for quite a long time.”

“By the way you measured time topside, Mister Potter, you’ve been tilling this ground by hand for nearly a month.”  He spun to find a fairly attractive black-haired woman with wings of the style often incorrectly identified at bat wings.  There were also horns sprouting from her head.  She was wearing a backless form-fitting charcoal grey dress that hugged her impressive curves to her knees.  Harry chuckled to himself as he realized who she reminded him of, and when he blinked, she was suddenly in a black dress that covered her nearly completely (it still gave pleasant cleavage).  She chuckled.  “Ah, an Addams Family enthusiast.”

“I’m interested to see what will happen here,” she continued.  “It’s not a normal thing to have a Heavenly soul doing work in Hell, so this ground is going to be fairly – well, my subordinates are going to be more than a little unhappy to step here.”

“I take it you’re Satan?” Harry asked.  He brushed the dirt off his hands on his pants and walked over to him, offering his hand.  At Satan’s surprised look, Harry began to pull back.  “Sorry, just being polite.  I can understand if you can’t touch me.”

She reached out with a grin and clasped Harry’s wrist, Harry returning the gesture, sharing a hearty handshake.  “Nice to see someone who isn’t scared of me down here.  What are you doing here, anyway?”

“You’ve got a guy elsewhere in here who probably is still trying to convince people that his name is Voldemort, I think.”

Satan snorted.  “Yeah, Riddle.  We’ve been deliberately misfiling him for a while.  Got him under ‘M’ for ‘Moldieshorts’ right now.  He should give it up in a century or so.  What do you have to do with him?”

“Well, I needed to take him out of my world, and he had too much on me, so I basically sneaked up on him and cast a spell I was pretty sure he never expected me to know, let alone cast.  It bound our souls together, and then sent us both to his destination.  Since he was pretty obviously Hell-bound, based on his actions topside, as you call it, that meant I had to come here as well.  So I’ve been doing make-work until someone figures out what to do with me.”

“Well, I’m that ‘guy’.  Let’s go and see if anything can be solved where he is.”  Harry shrugged and walked with Satan, noting as he stepped off the land he’d been tilling that a gentle rain began to fall on the land, and only within those confines.

“Oh, that’s going to be very interesting, Mister Potter,” she said.  “I think you’ve accidentally increased the torture of those down here, building a small piece of Paradise in the middle of Hell.”

He looked at Satan.  “Do you trick people here, or do they truly belong here?”

“Let’s put it this way, Harry.  Your aunt, uncle, and cousin will end up here unless they change their ways.  Hitler is here.  Grindlewald is here, too.  Unrepentant wife beaters are here.  Unrepentant bigots are here.  Unrepentant … well, I think you see where this is going.  Your friend Cedric is not here.  Neither is your godfather, but Peter Pettigrew will most definitely end up here – or in the equivalent section of Avalon.”

“If they really belong here, then I’ll see about being allowed to keep coming down here and doing renovations – improving it as I can.”

Satan stopped.  “That’s nastier than I’m used to hearing someone who should have been in Heaven say.”

“They belong here.  That’ll be that much more of a reminder of what they gave up by being unrepentant.”  He shrugged.  “Maybe I should have been in Heaven when I died, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t feel angry.”

He paused.  “Actually, I just realized what my eternal torture is going to be.”  He sat down heavily in the road.  “I’ll never see any of them again.  I’ll never see Hermione, or Ginny, or Tonks, or Ron, or any of them again.  I’ll get people like Fudge, or Bellatrix Lestrange.  That’s my eternal damnation.”  Unbidden, he felt tears come to his eyes.  “Never.  That’s a damned long time.”  He suddenly realized what he’d said, and laughed bitterly.  “‘Damned’, now there’s a joke and a half.”  He broke down completely, sobbing uncontrollably as the truth of his eternal self-imposed sentence finally struck him.

#####

He finally stopped crying an unknown time later, to find himself being held in a caring embrace by Satan.  “My apologies, Satan.  I’d imagine that was a little uncomfortable for you.”

“Not really.  I’m not the right royal bastard the Christians make me out to be.  For one thing, I’m female.  There’s a few other things, but I doubt you’re up for a cosmological discussion right now.”

They started to walk again, and the area they had been in dwindled in the distance fairly quickly – quicker than it should have.  “Nothing is really absolute down here, is it?” Harry asked.

“Except good and evil,” Satan replied.  “Distances, time, all the rest?  You couldn’t judge time here based off what you knew topside.  For example, you’ve been here more than a month.  Up there, they’ve only just gotten your body back to somewhere that it can be treated.  A day at the very most, and that’s pushing it.  It’s just a bit fluid around here.  Ready, everyone?”  Harry shrugged, and they disappeared with a ‘Poof!’

They reappeared in an idyllic spot, and the other three walked straight to the tree they were near.  There was another goat-legged fellow sitting there already, relaxing alongside the remains of a picnic and playing a set of reed pipes.  “Pan!  How are you?” Satan asked him.

“Can’t complain.  Nice weather, frisky nymphs, good wine, good music.  What more does a god need?” came the laughing reply.

“Can’t argue with you there, sexy,” she laughed.  “Mind if we join you for a bit?  This is Harry Potter, by the way.  That fellow we’ve been looking for?”

Pan stood and held out his hand to Harry.  “Pleased to meet you. You’ve had people in a bit of a tizzy.”

Harry shook his hand and looked around, curiously.  “Um, are we still in … I mean, it’s much prettier here.”

“No, this is Arcadia; it’s part of the Greco-Roman afterlife,” said Satan.  “It’s kind of neutral territory.  Easier to meet other parties here.  And speaking of the other party …”

Another man approached, whose appearance Harry couldn’t properly pin down.  There was a halo above his head, and he appeared to be bearded and wore a blue tunic, but as for skin colour or hair colour, he simply could not decide exactly how to describe it.  “Harry!  There you are!” the man exclaimed.  “Satan!  Good to see you again.  How have you been taking care of him?”

“Found him ploughing a field by hand, then sowing seeds by hand as well.  Make-work.  He was whistling, for Your sake!” Satan said, laughing.  “My demons were scared to tell me about him!  That’s why it took so long.”

Jesus laughed.  “Come along, Harry, you have a lot of people who want to meet you.”

“But what about Riddle?”

“Oh, severing the connection between you was the easy part.  Don’t worry, we’ll make sure he stays where he belongs.  Getting you where you belong may take a little while, though.  Your method of dealing with him  was a bit extreme.”

“Probably, but I wasn’t going to let another ten thousand people die while they finally dithered about deciding to train me for fighting.  So I found a spell that would do the job and save my friends.  Eventually they’ll stop grieving, and get on with their lives.  Ron and Hermione can have those fat babies, for example, and Tonks can find someone.”

Jesus smiled, and Harry felt warm down to his toes.  “And that attitude is exactly why you belong upstairs.”

Pan shook his head.  “I didn’t think humans like you existed anymore.”

Suddenly Harry lost the thread of the conversation as his eyes fell on a beautiful woman walking toward the group under the tree.  “Oh no!” he said, getting up and heading toward her.  “Why are you here, Tonks?”

The woman, green-haired and naked, looked at him rather puzzled.  “Who is this Tonks you speak of?  I am a nymph.”

Harry snorted.  “Green hair and a nymph.  My Nymph could have green hair when she wanted.  Heh.  Your name isn't Nymphadora Tonks, though?"

"No.  Is she someone special to you?"

"Very much so.  Your green hair made me think of her."  It suddenly struck him that it was blatantly obvious that her hair colour was natural.  Despite being a spirit, his reaction certainly felt to him as if he had a body, and blood to be redirected south.

Behind him, at the tree, he could vaguely hear, "… it's that whole Father, Son, and Holy Shit!"  He looked to them, and Pan was looking toward them with amusement.  "For a human, that's pretty damned impressive!" he was saying, and Harry realized that his reaction to this nymph was more than a little obvious.

An amused Jesus answered, "I think you meant 'Father, Son (that's me, of course), and the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit', Pan."

Jesus stood and walked to the two of them.  "What's your name, miss?"

"I don't really have one.  They tend to call me after the tree I prefer – Willow.  So," Willow asked, turning to Harry, "would you like to have sex here, or over in the bushes?"

Harry's jaw dropped, and he stood motionless for several moments, moving only when she took this as an agreement and reached out to undo his trousers.  "Wait!" he squeaked.  "As much as the idea is … wow … umm, I shouldn't."

"Why not?" she asked, looking both curious and mildly hurt.

"Because I'm still a virgin, and if I do, I'm likely to give you a little bit of my heart, and I may never see you again."

"Wouldn't giving me a piece of your heart hurt?  Besides, I have nothing I could carry it in."  She said it so seriously that Harry didn't laugh, realizing that she was taking his statements literally.

Satan stood and walked over to her.  "No, Willow.  I think what he's saying is that for him, sex isn't merely just the joining of two bodies.  He needs to feel something more than lust for the girl he's doing that with, taking it from merely fucking to making love.  Which means that he'd be falling in love with you, if only a little bit.  Am I right, Harry?"  Harry nodded.

"I've never had someone love me before.  We nymphs are always used merely for sex, when we aren't performing the other duties our existence requires."

"And if I fell in love with you, even a little bit, it would hurt if I knew I'd never see you again," Harry finally said.  "I really appreciate the offer, Willow, but I think for both our sakes, I should say no."

Satan stage-whispered to her.  "Willow, when a human of his exceptional character says that, you have definitely not been rejected.  It means he already likes you, and it happens to be a compliment."

She cocked her head in a cute manner and asked, "Is this true?"

"If I didn't have some respect for you already, I'd be off in those bushes with you by now."

Satan snorted.  "Right," she muttered.  "If he didn't respect her, he wouldn't even contemplate it in the first place."

"And that's why he's such a troublemaker upstairs," said a familiar voice behind Harry.

He spun to see Sirius Black standing near the tree, a wide grin on his face.  "Sirius!" he cried, running and tackling his godfather in a tremendous hug.  "I am so sorry …"

"Stop right there, Harry.  I know you, and I am telling you now that if I don't blame you, then you don't have the right to blame yourself.  Turns out that I've gotten a look at the Book that old Pete reads, and that was my day.  Now, I could have gotten it from an A-K, I could have been Crucio'd to death, I could have been killed with that slice that Anton used on Hermione, and that would have been painful, let me tell you.  My day to die was then.  No matter what you had done, it would have happened.  If you'd called me and gotten me, it's possible that a large rock would have fallen from the sky, plowed through the house, and gone hunting for me.  Or I could have stepped outside and had one of those Muggle Knight Buses hit me.  I was going to die that day.  I went peacefully, with no pain.  If you want to look at it that way, then I owe you a debt of thanks for making my passing peaceful."

Harry was simply staring at the man.  "Really?  You would have died that day no matter what?"

"That's what he tells me, and he doesn't tend to lie about that.  Probably would have been a heart attack, or Severus and me strangling each other to death.  Both kinda painful, if you ask me.”

“Yeah.  So you actually made it upstairs?  Heh.  That’ll drive Snape totally bug-fu … umm, crazy.  Sorry, Jesus,” Harry said, blushing.

“It’s just words, and they aren’t really meant to be hurtful, are they?”  When Harry shook his head no, Jesus smiled again.  “Besides, describing someone as ‘going bug-fuck’ is so much more interesting sounding than ‘it’ll really annoy him’.”

“I’m actually looking forward to seeing the old snake again.  Winding up in the same place will make him even more bug-fuck.”

“Snape’s destined for Heaven?”

“Well, no, he’s destined for the high-rent section of Avalon, same as me.  Most of us who grew up in the wizard community never bought into the Christian thing so we don’t wind up in their heaven, but in the Avalon of Merlin and Morgana.  Muggle-borns tend to wind up in Heaven.  And a bunch of us kinda … commute.  Everything’s connected anyway.”

“Then why was Riddle in Hell?”

“It was what he expected,” Jesus put in.  “He spent his early years among your Muggles, and at that time Christian education was part of the basic schooling in the orphanages.  He internalized the beliefs, even if he denied them later.  It’s why he tried so hard to become immortal.  He knew he’d never make it to Heaven, and he didn’t want to go to Hell.”

Harry looked up hopefully.  “If you’re here, Sirius, does that mean …”

“Hello son,” said a deep voice as a man stepped out from behind the tree, followed by a beautiful red-haired woman.

Harry’s next words sounded as if they had come from a six year old.  “Mummy?  Daddy?”  He ran forward and threw himself at them, crying uncontrollably.

He cried fifteen years worth of not knowing them, of being abandoned at the Dursleys, and of not knowing love.  They held him as he cried, and when he came to his senses, there were tears all around – even Satan was wiping away tears.

“Forgive me,” Harry said.  “I don’t usually break down like that.”

“It’s not everyday you meet your parents who’ve been dead for fifteen years either, Harry,” Sirius chuckled.  “I think a little emotional outburst is warranted, under the circumstances.”

“I want you to know that we’re very proud of you, Harry,” Lily Potter said.  “Despite everything that worthless sister of mine did to you, you grew up to be a fine young man.”

“Who died before he was a man, Mum,” Harry added with a wry smile.  “I was still at Hogwarts when I avenged you.”

“But a man nonetheless, Harry,” James said.  “‘Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his fellow man.’”

“That’s not quite how it goes, but close enough,” murmured Jesus, quietly.

“Harry, you sent your soul to Hell to save your friends and loved ones.  If it weren’t for the fact that you set off two separate warning bells in Heaven alone, you’d be there for eternity.  To save people you didn’t even know.”

Harry blushed.  “Actually,” he said quietly, “I did it to save four people.  Ron, Ginny, Hermione and Tonks.”

“You love them, don’t you?” Lily asked with a smile.

“Well, yeah, but not necessarily that way, at least where Ron is concerned.”

“Can’t say that about the other three, can you?” she chuckled at him.

“Makes me glad I won’t be going back.  Choosing would kill me, if only because the other two would get me,” he laughed.

“Why choose?” Sirius asked, leaning against the tree.

“Why am I not surprised that you said that?” Harry asked with a loud laugh.  What surprised him was his mother’s response.

“He’s right.  Why choose?”

“Mum?”

“You love all three.  Ask all three of them to be your lovers, and not just purely physically.  We see more up here, remember.  Ask all three of them, and see what they say, knowing that they’ll be sharing you.”

“Lily …” James warned.

“Oh, you know what the decision will be as well as I do.  Do you really think that Jehovah is going to sentence to Hell someone who took His lesson so far to heart that he threatened his everlasting soul?!”  She grinned suddenly.  “Pride might be a sin, but that’s my son that did that.”  She thrust out her chest.

Harry was suddenly very uncomfortable, and James laughed.  “Honey?  You forgot that he never got that filter installed – the one that most people have that says ‘Thinking that way about Mum is a no-no’?  He has the look of someone who wishes he could nurse at your breasts again, but not for nourishment.  Our son has my taste in women – look at the three he died for.”  Harry looked down at the ground, blushing, but also very angry at himself.

He heard her voice as she gently lifted his chin to look at her.  “Harry?  It’s all right.  It’s compliment, really.  Your dad is right, though.  All you’ve ever heard about me was that I was pretty, and seen a few pictures of me.  Now you meet me in the closest thing to flesh that we can have, and you’re suddenly reminded of the fact that all three girls you love are like me in various ways – and the most obvious one being that they all have very pleasant curves.”  At his startled look, she shrugged.  “Hey, I might not ever have been a Seeker for the other team, but I appreciate beauty as well as the next person.  All three of your girls are quite attractive.  And curved like me.”

“Are you trying to say that I thought … um, that about you because I was thinking of them?”

“If that makes it so that you don’t want to beat yourself up anymore, sure,” Lily laughed.

“Up, no,” Sirius stage-whispered to Pan.  “Off, likely.”

“Keep that up, Sirius, and we’ll kick you out of the bed for a month,” she said sternly, but with a twinkle in her eye.

James tapped her shoulder.  “Honey?  I think you broke Harry.”  Harry was looking between the three of them, his jaw nearly touching the grass.  “Son, that’s something we didn’t intend to spring on you, but since the cat … uh, dog is out of the bag … When we were alive, things were a bit more unusual than people thought.  I’m your father – of that you can be sure, but … Harry, if you end up going back, of which there is some possibility but don’t get your hopes up, you’ll be the reverse of our set-up.  Remus, Sirius and I revolved around your mother.  She married me, but if things had been different, you probably would have had a half-sibling named Lupin, and one named Black.”

“Potter.  Never Black,” Sirius growled.

“So – so you all  were lovers?” Harry asked carefully.

“Yup,” Lily said rather matter-of-factly.  “Bed could get busy with all four of us.”

Harry’s eyes bugged, and he shook his head.  “Please – we’re heading back into that territory again.  I’m looking at you, Mum, and – well, I’ve been taught that a bloke shouldn’t think things like that about his Mum.”  He looked around and said with a weak laugh, “Nice weather we’re having here, eh?”

“I have an idea,” Jesus said suddenly, and disappeared in a puff of pleasant smoke.

“Worry when he does that,” Satan laughed.  “Interesting things happen when he gets ideas.”

A short time later, Jesus reappeared with five people that Harry instantly recognized.  “I see what you mean,” said Merlin.  “Excellent potential, and he seems just the type to give those wizards out there a needed kick in the ass.”  He walked over to Harry and asked, “How would you like to do a little studying while you’re here?”

“What subjects?” Harry asked warily.

“Anything you want,” Rowena Ravenclaw responded.  “We want to teach you until the time comes to send you back.  You can be a force for great change in the wizarding world.”

“Yes,” Salazar Slytherin added.  “That ‘kick in the ass’ that Merlin spoke of.”

“Wait … send me back?  I was just getting used to being dead!”

“Well, unfortunately the Book has you down for quite a few years yet, and since we haven’t convinced the Fates to use White-Out, it looks like you’ll have to go back.  For a while.”  Harry looked at his parents and Sirius with a stricken expression on his face.  “Oh, don’t worry.  It will probably be quite a while before we send you.  There is a lot you need to know first.  So you’ll have plenty of time to be with your parents and godfather.  And you’ll be back soon enough.”

“How long will I be studying?”

They laughed.  “Time is rather plastic here.  You’ll study for as long as you want to, in as many subjects as you want.”

“Gods, I wish Hermione were here – she’d love that sort of an offer!”  His face fell.  “No, come to think of it, no I don’t.  The world will be a much poorer place without her, when her time comes.  In hopes that she has a long happy life with the man of her dreams, I accept.  Besides, she’ll always be that little voice in my head.”

“What would you like to study first?” Merlin asked.  Harry thought for a moment, and his eyes fell on his parents and Sirius, who had shifted to his canine form, rolling around on the grass with Lily scratching his stomach.  “I think I’d like to be an Animagus, sir.”

“How many forms?” Merlin asked with a grin.

“I can have multiple forms?” Harry asked in shock.

“The average person can only handle one form, mainly because everyone has trained them down through the years that way.  As a wise man once said, ‘Argue for your limitations, and they’re yours.’  Pick a form, and we’ll work you through it.  I think you’ll discover, once you learn how to do it once, that adding new forms will be easier than you can possibly imagine.”  Merlin laughed as he watched Padfoot lick Lily’s face from chin to hairline.  “Come along children – it’s time to start classes.”

#####

Jesus and Satan relaxed under the tree as the magical group phased from Arcadia to Avalon.  “Well, that worked out rather well, I think,” said Jesus.

“Quite nicely.  Now I just have to remember to re-file Riddle every so often, and red-flag the Dursleys when they show up.”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked curiously.

“Oh, I think making them tend Harry’s garden will do for a start …”

#####

Harry lost track of the amount of time he spent in Avalon.  His chosen first form was that of a snowy white owl, in honour of one of his constant friends.  The process was far easier in Avalon, where magic flowed so much more freely.  He had mastered the form within a few weeks, and moved on to others, adding one for the fun of it when he discovered that he could.

He moved from there to Metamorphmagus training, which he started when he mentioned the situation concerning his hair and Aunt Petunia.  He spent considerably more time getting that right, and also learning things that he hoped he’d someday be able to teach Tonks.  He learned swordplay from the four finest wielders of the weapon that Avalon had to offer – Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Salazar Slytherin, and a certain young man of royal bearing who insisted that he call him Arthur.

It was one morning after making love to Willow for a third time before getting up for his studies that he realized how things had changed.  “Oh my,” he whispered.  “That’s the second Nymph I’ve fallen in love with.”

“Thank you, Harry,” she whispered against his shoulder as she flowed into an embrace.  “I understand what you meant a few years ago when you said that you would give me part of your heart, because you have some of mine.”

“And you mine,” he whispered into her ear.

“I have more than just your heart with me,” she murmured, placing a hand on her stomach.  “You have sired a child with me, Harry Potter.”

He knelt before her and kissed her stomach, making her release a throaty chuckle.  “That sort of behaviour is what led to our child, Harry.”  He stood, holding her tightly.  “Oh Harry, I can feel your love for me.”

“Yeah, I think it’s throbbing against your stomach,” he laughed.

“That too,” she replied.  “I speak of your emotion, though.  You love me deeply, as deeply as you love those mortals you still pine for.”

“Yeah, I still miss them.”  His head shot up.  “Wait, ‘a few years ago’?  How long have I been studying?”

Rowena Ravenclaw walked into the room, giving him a hug.  She was dressed as he was, which meant that he enjoyed the view of the beautiful nude woman, and enjoyed the feel of her body against his.  “Later, Harry,” she chuckled as she ended the hug.  “We have things that must be done.”

“Agreed.  How long have I been here?”

“You forget that time is fluid here.  You have been studying with us for a number of years.  You have actually surpassed us in certain areas.  Have you noticed that you have begun teaching us some of the things you have discovered?”

He chuckled.  “Yeah, like touching you there gets the most delightful shivers passing through your body.”  He matched word to action, brushing his fingers gently through her pubic hair.

“I said later,” she gasped.  “You have learned the greatest lesson of all here, Harry, the one that all must learn to survive.  Love is to be shared.  Not necessarily physical love, but spiritual love.  It truly is that which makes the Universe, and that which truly allowed you to defeat Tom Riddle – your love for your fellow beings.”

“Getting physical about it can be fun,” he said, hugging her again, this time from behind and nibbling her neck.  “And with certain people, it’s definitely a spiritual experience.”  His hands came up to cup her breasts, and the nibbling became more pronounced, as did her reaction.  “I never thought I’d be able to say this about a woman who died a thousand years before I was born, but I love you, Rowena.  I finally understand that I can love many women, and not necessarily physically.  I can love my Mum as a woman in her own right, and not just as the woman who bore me in her body for nine months, and that love doesn’t have to have a physical expression.  I can love my father the same way.”  He paused, and then chuckled.  “I can be as incredibly pedantic and boring as old Professor Binns.”

She moaned quietly.  “I love your sense of humour, and I’m afraid that I’m going to have to leave us both hanging, Harry.  You have a meeting to go to, and that’s why I was sent to get you.  I told them they should have sent Salazar.”

“Oh, that would have been worse,” Harry said seriously.  “He ever use that tongue on you?”  She spun and looked at him, wide-eyed.  “Gotcha!” he laughed, and took off running, the founder of the house of Ravenclaw in laughing pursuit.

They finally arrived at Harry’s meeting after a short delay, since when she caught him, it was right near a bush, and they were both rather aroused ….  “Harry, so good of you to join us,” Merlin said with a hearty laugh.

“Well, I joined with her first, hence the delay,” Harry laughed back.  A ripple of laughter flowed around the room, and Harry realized that quite a few were there.  He could see Satan, Pan, Jesus, and several nymphs, including Willow, who he blew a kiss to.  He was amused to see an imprint of his lips appear momentarily on her cheek.  His parents and Sirius were there.  A few others of some noticeable power were also evident in the room.  One who so obviously had to be Jehovah stood.

“Harry Potter.”  It was said with considerable power, and Harry fought hard to keep from falling to his knees in terror.

“Present,” he finally said, a little cheekily, which got a laugh from the deity.

“The time has come for you to go back to the mortal plane.  For a while only.  You will be returned to your body, and we ask that you make an effort to change things.”

“Change things?”

“You will have returned from the dead, Harry Potter.  People will tend to listen to you.  You have defeated the Dark Lord of your time, and we’d rather like it if you could manage to hold off producing one for another few years, please.”

“Rather high on my list too, so we’re in complete agreement there.”  He bit his lower lip.  “I want to go back, but I’ve been studying here for so long.  Are the people I knew still around, even?  And just today I discovered that, well, Willow is pregnant.  How long will I be gone?  Will I ever even meet my baby?”

Jehovah laughed.  “Let me worry about the first two.  As for the third – how would you like to be able to travel to and from Avalon and Arcadia at will?  Be involved with your child’s life?  Perhaps even introduce Willow to your world, as proof that you weren’t merely the victim of a particularly vivid near-death dream?”

“Would you like that, Willow?” he asked.  At her excited nod, he chuckled.  “Need to get the world used to nudity, too.  I don’t think you’ve ever worn clothes, love.”

“Why?  I would only end up taking them off later.  Why put them on to take them off?”  She shrugged pleasantly.

“Are you ready to leave, Harry?” asked Jehovah.

“Just a moment.  Satan, thank you for the hospitality when we first met.  I don’t care who I might anger with this, but you will always be a welcome guest in whatever household I am inhabiting.  The same goes for you, Pan, if you visit the mortal realm in my era.  I wish I could offer the same to you three as far as the mortal realm goes, Mum, Dad, Sirius, but I guess your time there is done.  Willow – I will be back for you, beloved.  Rowena, you’ll be one of the reasons I keep visiting here as well.”  He growled the seductive purr that he knew sent shivers down her spine.  He turned back to Jehovah.  “I can’t begin to thank you enough for everything – getting a chance to really know my parents, the ability to come back occasionally, everything – all I can say is ‘Thank you’.”  He was mildly surprised to find tears in his eyes as he said it.  He closed them, and the world around him went away.


Chapter 1

Chapter 3

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Author Notes:

Harry puts his plan in motion - and things get interesting.

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