Death Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be
Death Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Harry came to his senses lying down, feeling soft warm lips pressed against his. "I’m sorry, Harry," he could hear Ginny saying. "I love you, and I never got the chance to tell you." He felt tears strike his cheek.
He couldn’t move yet, nor open his eyes. His cheek didn’t twitch under the tickle of Ginny’s tears. He didn’t even think he was breathing. Wait, said a voice in his head that he knew to be Jesus from their years of long talks. You’ll be released in a few minutes. You’ll know when. And you’ll love the prank aspect of it, too. The Weasley twins will worship you for it. Tell them they can thank Padfoot, Prongs, and the Purrfect One.
When did I come back to? he thought. And where am I?
Well, three days is traditional, Jesus said with a chuckle. And as for where … well, we thought it might be useful for you to know what people truly think of you, and where better to hear that than at your own funeral? Make the most of it, he said before his voice faded away.
He felt another pair of lips brush his. "I’m sorry, Harry," Tonks said. "I wish I’d followed through on that present. You might be in my arms today, or even Ginny’s, rather than here. I know you wouldn’t want this, but I probably won’t ever forgive myself." He heard sobs begin. "I’d rather Voldemort were still around, because you would be too!" she whispered before breaking down.
The parade continued, giving him a few surprises, such as Susan Bones kissing him and whispering, "Hermione and Ginny were very lucky girls, Harry. I wish you’d had a harem, I’d have joined it, if you’d have had me."
Good God, I’d be a fool to turn that down! Harry thought. She’s such a sweet and giving girl. And I’ve seen her out of those robes in more form fitting clothes. I think there’s a few who’d like to be given that. Hmm, I think I should hope that the bottom half of this coffin is closed, or else they’ll realize I’m back.
Ron reached the coffin. "I understand why, mate, but can you understand how I can hate you so much right now for leaving us? You were my best friend ever, Harry, and now you’re gone! You’ve destroyed Hermione, and Tonks, and all us Weasleys. You were my brother!" There was a pause, and then Ron yelled, "How could you do this to us, Harry?" and collapsed onto Harry’s chest, sobbing uncontrollably.
Still he couldn’t move. I hope they forgive me when I sit up in the coffin. Hermione arrived finally, and carefully pressed something soft into his hands. "Something to take with you into the afterlife, Harry," she whispered after placing a loving kiss on his lips. "Something I was to afraid to give you when you were alive. Take them as a token of my wish to have given you my love. All my love, Harry." She kissed him again. "Gods, I’m blushing so hard that it feels like your lips are warm, Harry," she whispered. "I hope you enjoy my knickers."
If he’d been able to, that alone would have caused him to sit up in the coffin, from shock alone. Why don’t they do things like that when a guy’s alive and it might do some good? he wondered. The procession continued, teaching him some interesting things about some of the Slytherins. He’d definitely have to talk to Daphne after he was back …
Draco approached next. "Heh. I’m probably the only one here who will admit to being glad you’re dead. In fact, I’d like to thank you. You took Voldemort out of the picture, clearing the way for my father. After money gets to the right people, he’ll be free and completely clear of the charges of being a Death Eater. And then the Mudblood and her friends will get what they truly deserve. And there’s not a damned thing you can do now to stop me." Harry heard Draco walk away.
The next set of footsteps had Harry curious. He wondered who it was, because he had only heard the footsteps, mixed lightly with the swishing of a cape. He felt a hand touch his shoulder and rest there for a long moment before the person spoke. "Goodbye, Harry," he said. "Thank you." Snape? That was Snape? Well, I guess if I can come back from the dead, he can change into a nice person.
Finally, the parade of people wishing him a safe and happy journey to the afterlife ended, and the speeches were to begin. As soon as Harry heard the first speaker announced by Headmaster Dumbledore, he knew exactly when his return was planned.
Cornelius Fudge took the stage and began to speak. "Today we mourn Harold Potter, the Boy Who Lived. That title no longer applies, unfortunately for Harold. But he died saving us from the worst menace the wizarding world has seen for over a hundred years."
"When the spell he used was discovered in some old books, it was realized immediately how dangerous it would be. It would kill the caster as well. The Ministry did not wish for him to even know of the spell’s existence. But he insisted, saying that losing his life was worth ridding the world of the greatest evil it has ever known. Eventually, we were swayed by his protests that thousands would die needlessly, and handed the spell over to him."
Harry felt the restraints about him release, and he opened his eyes. As Fudge opened his mouth to speak again, Harry sat up and looked him squarely in the eyes. "That’s a lie, Minister Fudge, and you know it. You don’t even know which spell I used. Only one man knows, and he certainly wouldn’t have told you about it, before or afterwards. He knows how stupidly dangerous it is." He paused to take a deep breath, and looked down. He found that he wasn't in a coffin — instead, he was laid out on a platform. Think they call it a bier, he thought absently. Grinning, he stood on the bier and flipped himself onto the stage in a rather sprightly way, landing on his feet, which he suddenly realized were bare. "By the way, Fudge. If you’re going to read a eulogy for someone, at least get their name right. My birth certificate says Harry James Potter. Not Harold — Harry. Got it?" He turned around to face the audience, and carefully placed Hermione’s gift in his robe pocket, winking at her as he did. Her face flickered through several emotions — horror, surprise, happiness, embarrassment, and suddenly — a little arousal. "'Scuse me, folks, I have a couple things to do."
He walked to Ginny, dropping to his knees before her. "Ginny, love, can you forgive me for being an asshole since my birthday? I didn’t want to understand how much you were hurting, knowing that I was going to die. Please forgive me?" Her eyes were filled with tears as she nodded, violently enough that some of her tears sprayed his face. He made no effort to wipe them off. "May I be permitted to kiss one of the young women that I love, Ginny?" he asked, placing his hands to either side of her face and drawing closer. When her eyes closed and her lips parted slightly, he sighed and kissed her the way he had enjoyed kissing Rowena and Willow. Her eyes held a question, and he nodded. "Yes, Ginny. I love you," he whispered. "I also love Hermione and Tonks."
"I’ll share if they’re willing,"she whispered.
He stood and walked to Hermione. Pulling her to her feet, he gently pressed his lips against hers, and felt her melt into him. Her arms flew around his back, and soon he could feel her moan slightly in his mouth. "I’ll follow through on that gift," she blushed. "If I’m allowed to."
"We’ll all talk later, beloved, but I have to say my welcome to Tonks." He walked to her and pulled the shivering woman into his arms and kissed her. Whispering in her ear as the kiss broke, leaving her panting, "Was the gift rescinded, or just a rain check given?"
"Rain check," she answered numbly. As he gave her one final squeeze beforere releasing her, she suddenly grinned. "I love you Harry Potter!" she shouted at the top of her lungs, laughing happily.
"And I love you Nymphadora Tonks!" he shouted in reply.
"I want everyone to know," he said in a voice designed to carry through the magically expanded Hall, "that there are three main reasons I returned to life today, along with a slew of minor ones, like setting that git up there straight, publicly. But those three main reasons? Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger and Nymphadora Tonks. I came back to life for you three. You literally are my reasons for living. Never blame yourself for your part in my death, Tonks. Sirius forgave me my part in his, and I was far more to blame for it than you were for mine, my beauteous Nymph. I adore you, and have for years."
Her eyebrows quirked. "Uh, Harry?"
"Okay. Years subjective time. Lots of stuff to talk about what happened while I was dead, and I need to get on with it. But if you walk from here today with only one thought in mind, let it be that I died to keep you three safe, and I came back to make you three happy. You are my life." He gathered all three young women into what the Muggles called a "group hug." A very enthusiastic group hug. With tears all around. "Excuse me," he said as he finally let go of them. "There are things I have to do right now. Talk to you all later."
He turned and jumped up onto the stage, and Fudge shrank back from him. "Oh, bugger off, Fudge. I’m not a zombie or undead. Madame Pomfrey? You here?" She stood up in the audience. "Mind coming up and doing a quick check-up, in public, to prove that I’m not dead?"
Quite stunned, she came to the stage and ran her wand over him, murmuring various charms and such as she went along. Finally, she stood up and looked him in the eyes. "Well, Mister Potter, if you’re dead, you’re the most alive dead person I’ve ever met." She impulsively hugged him. "Please don’t do that to me again," she whispered. "As much as I’ve joked about your own room in the hospital wing, I don’t like mourning students." She released him and headed back to her seat.
He spoke quietly and quickly to Snape. "Don’t let Draco near an owl. He talked about Lucius taking over for Moldie, and using bribery to get out and have a clear record. Probably Fudge is on his list. Let the others know."
Fudge stepped forward. "Harry? Would you like to say a few words to everyone? Tell us about the titanic battle between two foes fated to meet. The Aurors …"
"… will admit that they came into the house to find Moldieshorts and myself dead and everyone else unconscious. Well, and the exploded remains of a snake. That reminds me. Peter Pettigrew. What was done with him?"
"He was tried by the Wizengamot and sentenced to Azkaban," Fudge replied weakly.
"And Sirius Black? The man sent to prison for killing someone? Let’s see, who was it? Oh yeah, that’s right! Peter Pettigrew! Sirius Black was imprisoned for more than a decade because he murdered a man current sitting in Azkaban!" Harry grinned a nasty grin. "How about you publicly declare Sirius to be innocent? He fought Voldemort the same as I did. Hell, the press knows he was innocent now — Pettigrew is in prison as we speak!" He scowled at Cornelius Fudge for a moment.
He then turned to the audience. "Okay. I’m back. Tom Riddle — the so-called Lord Voldemort - is permanently dead. Now the fun begins. Hopefully, we can prevent a situation like the rise of another Voldemort from happening again." A shudder passed through the audience. "Come on folks! He’s a deader! I ferried him to Hell myself!" He put both hands on the podium and leaned forward. "That’s what that spell did, by the way. It ripped Voldemort’s and my souls out of our bodies and bound us together, and took us to Hell. No titanic battle — I sneaked into his supposedly well guarded headquarters, past several Death Eaters, wearing an Invisibility Cloak. Nagini, his snake, saw me, so I cast Reducto on her, hence the snake meat all over the walls. He got stupid and stood up to see what had just happened. Some great Dark Lord!" Harry laughed. "He walked into the spell!" There was some small laughter in the Hall.
He stood back up. "Think about what I said that spell did, though. It ripped both our souls out of our bodies and sent us to his destination. Hell isn’t just a concept, people — it’s where people who think that just because they can trace their heritage back to Merlin’s grandmother, they have the right to lord over and oppress other people — that’s where they go. Hell or the Wizard equivalent in Avalon. Not nice places, either of them. Voldemort, Grindlewald, Lucius Malfoy when he dies, almost all the Death Eaters." He paused. "Unless they change their ways and truly atone for what they’ve done."
"But that’s the thing, folks. If not for a certain — heh — infernal luck of mine, I’d still be down there shovelling shit and trying to grow a garden. In Hell. You get interesting tasks, people. I’d like to stop this sort of thing from happening again. Voldemort running rampant, graft in the Ministry, hatred and distrust of the other species. We’ve warred with the Goblins how many times? Haven’t we learned anything yet? We treat centaurs as second class citizens when we acknowledge their existence at all. And we treated our own people as worthless if they don’t happen to have the right bloodline. One of the finest families I’ve ever met anywhere, people who I’m assured have earned a place in Avalon, is looked down on for being poor. They’re the richest family I know, people — they have love. And integrity. We can all learn a lot from the Weasleys."
The crowd sat in stunned silence. "Wow," he said. "I thought I'd been dead, but this crowd? It's as silent as the grave out there! And trust me, I know what I'm talking about!" He heard a few chuckles out in the crowd. "I’m tired of talking, though." He laughed. "I’m tired, and I’m dead on my feet." He paused for a moment, and then was rewarded with a braying laugh. "Thank you, Tonks," he grinned. "At least someone got it. So, since I just screwed up what seems to be a really nice funeral, for which I'd really like to thank you all, how about we have a party instead? I know I'm not that much of a comedian — well, unless you ask my teachers about my grades, that is," he said, drawing some laughter from the people, most noticeably from the Hogwarts staff, "but we need to have some fun. Let's make it as enjoyable as it was sombre a few minutes ago." He waved and a row of tables appeared along the wall, covered in food. As the crowd stood and slowly began to move in that direction, he waved a few more times, causing the seating to head to the walls, leaving plenty of room in the middle of the floor. He turned around and smiled at his teachers, who were looking at him in surprise. He walked over to Professor McGonagall, crooking an arm at her. "Shall we dance, Professor?" As he asked, strains of soft music filled the hall.
"I would love to, Mister Potter," she said. They began a slow, gentle waltz, surprising everyone who could remember Harry’s prior attempts at dancing. This was not the shy, clumsy boy who had two left feet at the Yule Ball — this was a young man in control of himself, and more self assured than anyone had ever seen him.
"This is an unexpected, but quite pleasant surprise, Mister Potter. It tempts me to believe that something truly amazing happened to you while you were gone."
"It did, Professor. Something truly astounding happened to me while I was dead. I’ll describe it for a select group of people after we’re done here."
"Why are you doing this? I’d think you’d want to be away from the press."
"I do, but they’ll follow me, and make things up if I don’t give them something to write about. They will anyway, once they get wind of my plans."
"You’re not …" she began in horror.
He laughed. "After all the crap I went through with Tom, you really think I want to replace him?" He hugged his professor. "I look forward to being in classes. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with me."
She looked around. "I would think so, considering that Miss Tonks has your wand enshrined in her possession."
"Merlin was happy about it, too."
She tripped at that statement, but Harry made it look as if he had chosen to dip her slightly. "You do have quite the story, Mister Potter."
"Harry. And I’d like to apologize for August, when I started using your Christian name without permission. It will not happen again."
"In a situation such as this, Harry, I will not complain if you call me Minerva."
"Very well, Minerva. It will be Professor when back in class, though." She nodded, and as the song ended, he bowed to her to a round of applause. The floor filled, and the music continued, but they parted, her to return to the teachers, and him to search out his friends.
He went straight for Ron. "I’m sorry, Ron, and if you want to hit me, then I’ll stand still for it. I never truly realized how many people it would hurt when I did that. I still would do it again, but I wouldn’t chase people away this time."
Ron looked at him, and then pulled him in tightly for a hug. "Don’t ever do that to me again, chum," he said thickly.
"I’m back for a long time, Ron." He saw others approaching and said with a grin, "Apparently I’m supposed to die at two hundred and thirty-seven, killed by an angry father after impregnating his twenty year old triplet daughters."
"Are you serious?" Ron asked incredulously.
"No, but a guy can dream, can’t he?" Harry laughed, and was joined by several of his classmates. He turned and was hugged by Parvati.
"Don’t do that to us again, Harry!" she was crying in his chest. "We all thought we’d never see you again!"
He returned her hug. "If I didn’t have friends in certain places, then I wouldn’t be back." He paused. "I hope you don’t mind, Parvati, but I’d like to do something that I’m betting most guys at this school will hate me for." As she looked quizzically at him, he leaned in and brushed her lips with a gentle kiss. "Hey, I was dead for three days. Lesson one — when you come back from the dead, do everything you always wanted to do, because you may never get another chance." Grinning, he released the stunned girl into the hands of her best friend Lavender.
Hermione was actually fairly close, so he grabbed her again, this time kissing her with more passion than before. "Hermione, I love you," he whispered in her ear. "Can you deal with the fact that I love more than one woman?"
"As far as I’m concerned, Harry, you can have a harem of a thousand girls, as long as I can be one of them," she whispered into his ear.
"I wouldn’t have one that large nor one without you in it, Hermione. You’re one of the girls I really wanted to return for." He grinned suddenly and let his hand fall, where he squeezed her shapely rear end.
"Harry!" she squeaked, blushing furiously. He continued to meet and greet people, carefully speaking to the reporters who came by, promising them more information once he’d actually had a chance to understand it.
Finally, as the impromptu bash wound down sometime in the early evening (the funeral having begun in the late morning), Harry carefully made his way to the headmaster and quietly asked him something, to which he received a nod. Half an hour later, he was in the headmaster’s office with Snape, McGonagall, the entire Weasley clan, Tonks, Hermione, and Flitwick.
The first thing Harry did was to walk over to Snape. "Sir? I’d like to apologize to you for my treatment of you over the last few months. I may have accepted what was coming, but I got really ugly about it. And too much of it I took out on you."
Severus Snape was physically affected by the apology, and took several moments to get the look of shock from his face. "Had I not seen you dead on that bier, Mister Potter, I would have thought that this was, perhaps, some effort to play a prank upon me. Speaking as one who knows, preparing oneself for death does not leave you in a very good mood. I have been prepared for years, and three days ago you gave me something I never thought I would have again, P … Harry. I have hope again. Thank you. No apology is necessary, but I accept it if you feel it must be done." He held out his hand, which Harry shook.
Harry laughed. "Now that we've freaked out everyone, I assume I should tell you what happened." He recounted his adventures as concisely as he could.
"That’s quite a tale, but it still leaves so many questions unanswered," Professor McGonagall said. "For example, how did you do such effortless magic without a wand?"
"Well, magic is in the mind, and when you have a decade in which to study, you pick some things up." He grinned. "Like the fact that Rowena Ravenclaw lets loose with the most interesting squeals when … never mind."
The looks everyone gave him made it rather obvious that they thought he was crazy. "Look," he said. "I was dead for three days, and you have no problems with me being alive again, but you have trouble believing that time might act a little wonky Over There?"
"Actually, Mister Potter," Snape said, "I believe that it is that you are referring to people who have been dead for one thousand years in the present tense. And in a less than respectful manner, I might add."
"I lived around them for about a decade, Professor. And as embarrassing as it is for me to talk about it around adults, things went a little bit further than 'Hi, how are you?', if you catch my meaning. I learned swordplay from Godric, Salazar, Rowena, and Arthur. Merlin helped teach me magic, along with the Founders. I was living with a nymph for a good portion of that time." He paused. "Let’s see, how can I prove this to you?" Thinking for a few minutes, he finally looked up and said, "Professor Snape? Willing to travel with me to Avalon? I promise to bring you back."
The ladies in his life looked hurt. "Sorry girls, but he’s going to be the most sceptical. If he comes back and says that I was telling the truth, then everyone else might be willing to believe me. I’ll take everyone over one at a time at some point, but I’m betting that it won’t be an easy thing. No proof; just a feeling." He walked to Tonks. "Believe me, beloved one. I need you to understand that I am not doing this to slight anyone."
"I’m an Auror, sexy," she replied. "As soon as you mentioned that he’s the most sceptical, I understood." She kissed him, and he returned it with a promise to talk to her further, preferably horizontally. They broke, and she panted, "Come back soon, we all need to talk."
"Agreed," he replied. "Professor?" he asked, holding out a hand to the Potions Master. The man looked for a moment, took the proffered hand, and Harry suddenly disappeared from the headmaster’s office.
They appeared near the tree that everyone had been sitting around when he’d first met so many people. "This, sir, is Arcadia, the Greco-Roman afterlife. There is a bit of cross talk between the afterlifes, I understand. This seems to be the place everyone likes to visit, and talk."
"I can see why," said Snape in a strangled tone, as a nymph danced up to them and tucked a flower behind Harry’s ear.
Pan trotted out of the woods, obviously following the nymph, but he seemed perfectly willing to be distracted by an old friend. "Harry! You’re back, and you brought someone with you!"
"This much is obvious," Snape murmured under his breath.
"Be nice, sir," Harry laughed. "Pan, I’d like you to meet one of my professors from school. This is Professor Severus Snape. Sir, this is the Greco-Roman god Pan, god of … sorry, sir, I forgot. He’s my friend, so I kinda forgot that there are write-ups about him in half a million books."
"This is all well and good, Mister Potter, but how can you prove to me that this is indeed the afterlife?"
"Oh, this isn’t the afterlife, it’s just one of them. Take him to Avalon," Pan said. "I think he might get a kick out of meeting Merlin and a few of the others."
"Yeah, and I’ll have to knock Dad down a peg or sixty, quite probably. Let’s not even think about Sirius." Harry shook his head and looked to Snape. "Okay. This was actually a stop-over to get you used to the fact that I could leave Hogwarts, thereby proving that it isn’t Apparation. Now we’re going into Avalon proper, into the house I was using." He put his hand on Snape’s shoulder, and suddenly they were in the main hall of his house. He heard a squeal, and turned in time to catch Willow as she launched herself at him.
When he had finished kissing the nymph senseless, he disengaged and turned to Snape. "Professor? This is Willow, a nymph."
"Put some clothes on, young lady!" Snape said, almost stuttering. He opened his mouth to continue, but Harry cut him off.
"Sir? Honestly, she’s never worn clothes in her life; I see no reason she should start now. She started off as a nymph in Arcadia, but she’s been changing into a much more complex person, so she lives here now. For her, the only reason for clothing would be for a sexual effect — icing on the cake, as it were. We’re here in Avalon now. She dresses the way she feels comfortable, just as everyone else here does."
As if to punctuate his statement, Sirius and his parents came into the place from outside. "We heard Willow squeal, and figured you’d come back with a friend," Lily said. "Severus! Please tell me you’re here as a guest, and not as a permanent resident."
Harry chuckled to himself to see his Potions teacher beyond stunned, since he and Harry were the only ones clothed. Harry fought down the mild annoyance at the evidence that Snape liked what he saw. Hell, she’s my Mum, and I reacted. "Dad, Sirius? I ask that you not prank him here. Please?"
"Agreed, son," James said. He extended his hand to Snape and said, "Severus? You have no reason to trust me on this, but I want to apologize for all the crap we put you through. I was an obnoxious, big-headed prat, but by the time I realized that, it was too late — I’d already damaged things with you beyond repair. I doubt that even when you get here permanently that you’ll ever really forgive me, and I guess I’d deserve that."
"It’s not like we’ll see each other that much," Snape replied, a little shaken. "I’d imagine that I am destined for somewhere a bit … shall we say … warmer?"
Sirius laughed. "Actually, you get the joy of seeing me for all eternity! We’re going to be roomies!"
"Thus is my point proven," came the drawling response. Sirius put on a hurt expression.
Lily began to laugh. It started as a slight giggle, but it grew to a full-fledged belly laugh. "Severus, I never knew you had it in you to joke like that! That was perfect! I saw that twinkle in your eye just before you responded!" She fell to laughing again, this time to the point of crying, with the others joining her, the laugh was so infectious.
Eventually the group left Harry’s home to explore Avalon, and Harry ended up introducing Severus Snape to the four Founders and Merlin. Finally, it was decided that they should return to the headmaster’s office. "I’ll see you guys again soon, at least from my point of view," Harry said.
They reappeared in the headmaster’s office, and were immediately greeted with Hermione’s "How did you Apparate on Hogwarts grounds?"
"Well, that answers the first question I had," Harry chuckled.
"What is the verdict, Severus?" Albus Dumbledore asked the Potions Master.
Shaking his head, he looked at a bemused Albus Dumbledore. "The young man tells the truth, sir. I was in Arcadia and Avalon, and spoke to the god Pan and a nymph, as well as Sirius, James, Lily, Merlin, and all four of the Founders. It is my belief, having verified that much, that if Harry says that he studied magic for ten years, that he did so, even if only three days passed here." He shook his head. "This is quite probably the most interesting Halloween I have ever experienced."
"Halloween?" Harry asked. "I left on the twenty-eighth."
"You did not arrive at your destination until after midnight, Harry," Dumbledore said. "Your spell was cast at roughly twelve-thirty AM on the twenty-ninth."
"Interesting," Harry said. "I come back to life on the anniversary of the day that Voldemort killed my parents and tried to kill me. Balance of a sort, if you will."
"You’re much calmer about this than I expected you would be, Harry," Dumbledore said.
Harry laughed. "To be honest, sir, part of it has always been a fear of the other side. I’ve been. I’ve met my parents, and I know that they love me. Not loved, but still love. I have the love of beautiful women both sides of the veil. I’ve made jokes about it, regarding Rowena, but I wouldn’t have gotten sexual with her if I hadn’t fallen for her. Hell, in a way, I did what my Dad did, too. I fell in love with my Mum as more than just the woman who gave me life and gave her life for me. There’s a nymph on the other side — the one you met, Severus, sorry; Professor Snape — she’s, um, well, she’s pregnant — by me - right now. â€˜Now’ being relative, I suppose." At the shocked looks, Harry shrugged, a bit embarrassed. "When they said I was coming back, I didn’t know how long I was going to have been gone from here. I found out she was pregnant the day they told me I had to come back. I didn’t even know someone could get pregnant over there, but I guess there are different rules for nymphs." He looked up at the women who meant everything to him, and let the fear show — fear that they would now decide that they wanted nothing to do with him.
Ginny answered first. "Harry, I almost lost you. It’s only the other side deciding you still had something to do over here that brought you back. If I have to be wife number ten thousand, then I will be. I love you, Harry James Potter, and I’m willing to share you with as many women as it takes to make you happy."
"Hmm, you, Hermione, Susan, and Daphne have all said something about my having a harem." He looked up at Tonks. "My beautiful human Nymph — will you consent to being my senior wife? Wife number one?"
"Are you asking me to marry you?" she gasped. In response, he reached into the air above his head, and everyone felt the magic flare. In his hand, he held a ring of braided gold. Set into it was a flawless pink diamond about the size of a pea. At his questioning glance, one he knew showed his fear of her rejection, she simply held out her left hand. A moment later, she was sporting an engagement ring women would cry themselves to sleep over for weeks.
He stood and pulled Tonks into a powerful hug. Without a word, he walked over and knelt before Hermione. Once again reaching out, he held another ring just like Tonks, only this one contained a perfect emerald just the colour of his eyes. He didn’t even have to open his mouth — her hand was out in a heartbeat, and tears flowed from her eyes. He kissed her deeply before finally releasing her and walking to Ginny. Finally, he spoke. "Ginny, I know you’re only fifteen, but if I …"
"Harry, I wasn’t joking before. My answer to your proposal is yes, even if I have to wait until I’m one hundred years old. I will marry you."
"Hurt her, chum," Ron said, "and you’ll live to regret it. Sorry, but I had to get the family threat out of the way." He laughed. "Welcome to the family, by the way."
Harry looked solemnly to Ron. "If I ever intentionally hurt one of these women, then there won’t be anything left for you to even spit on — they’ll see to that. And if I unintentionally hurt any of them, then the others would deal with what was left after I was done with me. As it is, I have to make up for deserting everyone three days ago, and it should take me a lifetime for that." He knelt before Ginny and held out a ring that matched the others, except for the stone being a flawless ruby. Her hand came out, and she soon sported the engagement ring.
Harry looked up at her parents. "I don’t ask your permission, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, but I do ask your blessing. Know that I would rather end up back in Hell again as a permanent resident than hurt Ginny again."
Arthur and Molly looked at each other for only a moment before turning back to Harry with a smile. "Our only condition, Harry, is that you wait until she has finished at Hogwarts. Beyond that, you have our blessing."
"We always thought of you as part of the family," Molly said with a happy sniff, "and now you will be!"
"What about dowry?" Harry asked.
Their faces fell. "Harry, we don’t …"
"I mean, after all, if I’m taking such a treasure from your household, I should be paying you something in order to do what little I can to make up for the removal."
"Harry, we won’t take money from you, you know that," Molly said sternly.
He grinned impudently. "Then I guess I’ll just have to make the dowry a complete renovation of the Burrow, with all the latest things, my offer. And I’ll have you know that’s my lowest offer."
"Don’t you mean highest offer?" Ron asked, a bit puzzled.
"Oh no, Ron. That’s my starting point. It only goes up from there." He turned and looked at Tonks and Hermione, but suddenly a thought struck him. "Oh no. My will!"
"Unprobated as of yet, Harry," Dumbledore smiled. "I read it to see what should be done with your body, but beyond that, it has not yet taken effect. Since you are here to be able to contest your own will, I think that you need not worry about your financial situation."
"Whew," he breathed. He turned back to Tonks and Hermione. "Bet I’m the only guy who will ever have to worry if his will has been made official or not. As I was going to say, however — the same must go for you two as well. Tonks, I will need to talk to your parents to agree on the dowry, and the same goes for you, Hermione."
Percy, who was standing with his brothers, spoke up. "Um, marrying three women is highly irregular, Harry. I don’t know if the Ministry…"
Harry levelled a suddenly icy gaze on him. "Percy. Do you honestly think that I care what the Ministry or your boss think? With or without official approval, it’s going to happen. End of statement. But now that you’ve got some advance notice, perhaps you can find some precedents so we can do it all legally and everyone will be happy."
Percy smiled. "Why, yes, I think I can do that." He started mumbling to himself about legal research until Fred punched him on the shoulder lightly and George informed him that he was being a git and should shut up.
Harry turned back to Dumbledore. "N.E.W.T.s are only done at the end of the year, right?"
"If there is truly a need for it, they can be rescheduled. Why?"
Harry blushed. "Not to brag, sir, but I could probably teach most of the courses at Hogwarts now."
"Harry, you’ve never even taken Arithmancy or Ancient Runes," Hermione said softly.
"Not while I was amongst the living, at least," he replied. "I had Merlin and the Founders teaching me. And trust me, they’ve been keeping up on the advances since their day." He thought for a moment. "May I be allowed to go into Diagon Alley tomorrow and buy the seventh year textbooks for all subjects, Professor Dumbledore? I can study them and see what else I need to learn. I’d like to take the N.E.W.T.s this year and then we’ll decide about next year."
After further discussion, they broke for the night, Dumbledore agreeing that a trip into Diagon Alley the next day might not be amiss. School had been cancelled for the week due to Harry’s death and the defeat of Voldemort, so it wasn’t as if he’d be missing classes. Tonks led him, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione back to the Gryffindor dormitory for the night, but not before Molly gave him a bone-crushing hug that he returned. "I love you, Mum," he murmured to her, making her sniffle happily.
When they reached the common room, Harry pulled Tonks in with them. He was immediately surrounded by the entirety of the fifth year and above Gryffindors. The others seemed scared of him.
"Come closer, folks," he said to the younger ones. "I’m not some freaky undead thing, like a vampire or a zombie."
"How do we know that?" one third year asked, voice shaking, but still defiant.
"Good question. What do you know about vampires?"
"They can’t be seen in mirrors, they can’t stand holy items, they can’t cross running water, they can be killed with a stake to the heart, they …"
"That’s good. We’ve got two methods right there that you’ve listed that we can use to test. Mind you, that stake to the heart will kill just about anything. Make sure you’re dealing with a vampire before you go staking anybody. Okay, we need a full length mirror down here. I want nothing to do with procuring it." A minute later, a mirror floated into the room. "Okay. Get where you can see the spot on the couch I’m sitting, but far enough away to feel safe. Now, after you’ve done that, can you see me in the mirror?"
"Yeah," the third year student said.
"Good, that wipes out the vampire thought, but just to be sure, anyone here have a religious icon that means something to them?" Parvati pulled a necklace from her blouse and pulled it over her head, kissing the symbol there before handing it to him.
Harry cradled the pendant in his hand and looked at it closely. "Hey, Ganesha! Cool dude! I like him." He slipped the chain around his own neck. "See? No pain."
She blinked at him. "What happened to you, Harry?"
"Short version. Found spell, killed Moldie, ended up in Hell with him." He opened his mouth to continue, but Lavender cut him short with a wail.
"If you ended up in Hell, what hope do the rest of us have?"
He smiled. "Lavender, I went there because I was tied to Riddle by the spell I cast. It ripped our souls from our bodies and threw us to his destination. Jehovah severed the connection, and left Moldieshorts down there. Right now his torture is being misfiled in Hell’s system."
"Me? Well, they didn’t know what to do with me, so I just planted a garden." He snorted. "If I know the way that Satan thinks, when the Dursleys get down there, she’ll put them to work keeping my garden in pristine condition."
Those who knew of Harry’s treatment at the hands of the Dursley family began to laugh at the concept. Harry started to speak, but the painting moved aside, and Remus Lupin came running into the common room. His eyes fell on Harry, and tears sprang to his eyes. "It’s true," he whispered. "You really are alive!" He nearly leaped across the room, pulling Harry into a hug so tight that he couldn’t breathe.
"Remus," he gasped, which finally got the werewolf to release him. He didn’t release Remus, though. He closed his eyes for a moment and thought, Jesus, if you’re out there listening to me, is there any way I can cure this man of his curse? He’s been there for me so many times, even when I didn’t appreciate it, and the … well, the hell I put him through with my death …
I understand, Harry. Remember what you learned with Merlin and the Founders about meta-auras? You can apply that to this situation, and to others as well. Harry felt a chuckle in his mind. And if it helps you any, I give you My blessing.
Harry opened his eyes and looked at his friend. "Remus, do you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you, Harry. Why?" Harry didn’t answer. Instead, he looked around the room, and looked past everyone, getting himself into the mindset to read meta-auras. The feeling flowed across him as he took in every one in the room. Remus’s stood out in stark contrast to everyone else’s.
"Well, magic is all about energy flow," he murmured to himself, not aware that everyone heard him. He began to work with Remus’s meta-aura, and slowly began to alter its â€˜colour’. It wasn’t that it had an actual colour, but more that it had a feeling of that colour. By the time he had finished, he was sweating.
"What were you doing, Harry?" Remus asked. "I feel strange. My senses are suddenly duller."
Panting slightly, Harry said, "Remus, at next full moon, I’m sitting with you. You’re not taking the Wolfsbane potion, either."
"Harry," Remus said in some alarm, but Harry stopped him.
"Remus, there is something called a meta-aura, that only a handful of people can really even see. If you know how to read it, you can even get a feel for a person’s talents. It also shows things like vampirism and lycanthropy. It is very dangerous to play with. Not to the recipient, but in the fact that it could be used to give or take things away from someone. I’m not sure I’m willing to train anyone who isn’t willing to make a major oath not to abuse it. Let’s put it this way — I could make Bellatrix and Lucius and the rest all Muggles. Not Squibs — Muggles." He stopped and took a deep breath, finally getting his wind back. "I took out the lycanthropy from yours, Remus." He thought for a second, and took off Parvati’s necklace with its silver chain and Ganesha talisman.
Remus looked carefully at the offering, and then let Harry place it in his hand. The look of wonder that came onto the man’s face made it all worthwhile to Harry. "This is silver, right?" he asked. At Harry’s nod, he began to laugh happily. "I am human again! Harry, don’t take this wrong, but I love you!" He pulled the young man into a bear hug.
When he released him, Harry was grinning. "Can’t have the last of the Marauders having pesky little problems like being a werewolf."
"That’s unimportant. Not that I’m complaining at all, Harry, but how are you alive? I saw your body — I was on that mission to Little Hangleton, and I saw Tonks carrying your body out. We verified — you were as dead as you can get. I couldn’t — I didn’t think I could bear going to the funeral, but then all of a sudden there were owls all over the place, and — then the news …"
"Well, I’ve got some friends in the afterlife on both sides of the equation. Satan, who happens to be a nice person as well as a dead sexy babe; Jesus, and yes, I’m talking that Jesus; Merlin, Pan, Ganesha … the list is actually fairly large. Oh, by the way, Remus, I have a message for you from the Purrfect One. â€˜We’re waiting for you, but don’t you dare hurry here.’" Harry grinned.
"You … you saw your parents?"
"And Sirius. The group is nearly complete, but they don’t want to see you for a long time, Remus. They’ll wait." He leaned in and whispered in his ear, "They're keeping the bed warm for you."
Remus's eyes were wide, and Harry nodded, whispering again, "It might have been nice to have had a half-sister named Lupin."
"Merlin's ghost! You have seen them," Remus breathed.
"At least now you won't look at me as if I'm crazy when I start to do some things. I've been given the mission to change things to avoid another Tom Riddle debacle if at all possible. I have some ideas, but I need to finish school first. I have a good long life ahead of me, so it's not as if I have to get it all done yesterday."
"What sort of ideas do you have?"
Harry returned to the couch, flanked by Ron and Hermione, and everybody else — even the first years, who probably didn’t understand all that much of what was going on but were proud to be included — gathered around.
"Why are centaurs and goblins considered lesser beings? Why is being a Pureblood better than a Muggle-born? Why do you think Tom was so interested in power, and convincing everyone he was a Pureblood? We need to fix those attitudes. The most brilliant witch I know is a Muggle-born — one of the more powerful ones, too. Look at me. I’m only a half-blood, and I was raised by Muggles. I might as well be Muggle-born. I don’t say it to brag, but how many people do you know can cast a Patronus that can chase away a hundred Dementors?"
"Muggle-borns bring a new way of looking at things to magic. Purebloods are used to the way things are done — that’s how they’ve always been done, and how they will be done in the future. I’ll bet that if you look back at all the innovations in magic, the majority of them had a Muggle-born or a Half-blood somewhere in its creation, even if a Pureblood got the credit."
"I’m not saying that Purebloods are bad — the greatest family I know is a Pureblood family." He smiled at Ron and Ginny. "But the Weasleys prove my point. They accept Muggle-borns and Half-bloods as just as good. And they’re better for it."
Katie Bell laughed. "Gods, Harry, it sounds like you’re running for Minister for Magic!"
Harry stopped dead. He thought for a moment. "You know something, Katie? When I’m old enough, that might just be a great place to work from. Thanks for the idea!"
"I was joking," she murmured to some chuckles around her.
"Look," Harry said. "Things aren’t going to be solved tonight. First off, it’s been a big day for everyone — you guys had to attend a funeral where the corpse chooses to sit up and tell off the Minister for Magic, and I had a day where I was that corpse. It’s been busy all around. What say we all go get some sleep, and we’ll hammer out some more of this tomorrow, okay?"
The crowd nodded, and slowly went their own ways to their dorm rooms, eventually leaving just Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Tonks and Remus. "Hey Tonks?" Harry said. "What do you think about August fifteenth?"
"It’s a day. Why?" she asked, puzzled.
"Well, I was thinking more along the line of the fifteenth as the day you get the companion to this," he said, kissing the ring on her left hand. Her eyes widened, and she threw her arms around him, crying. "Can I take that as a yes?" he asked, his own voice thick with emotion. He felt her nod vociferously.
"Okay. I’m torn now. I’d like both Remus and Ron to be my best man, but I can only have one."
Ron smiled. "Since Remus is the closest thing to family to you, choose him for the first one. I can be best man at either Hermione’s or Ginny’s."
Hermione looked at him in wonder. "Ron, that was … that was surprisingly mature." Her voice sounded serious, but her eyes were twinkling merrily at him, and she wasn’t able to keep the smile from showing.
"Yeah, well, don’t get used to it," he laughed. "Even us guys with the emotional depth of a teaspoon can have a good day." He was grinning merrily, and was joined in laughter by the rest.
"I can see there’s a lot I need to catch up on, Harry," Remus said. "I think, since you apparently got engaged to these three today, that you should … ahem … retire to somewhere private and talk." His eyes sparkled happily, telling Harry exactly what he meant.
"I like your idea, Remus," Harry laughed. "Today of all days I think I can get away with being out in the halls after curfew." He went serious for a moment. "Remus, I want to apologize for …"
"Stop right there, Harry. You did what you thought had to be done. I am incredibly happy that you’re back, but I know that you were giving your life to save us all. Don’t apologize for that."
"I want to apologize for putting you through the emotional pain. I did that to too many of my friends, and as I said earlier, I’ll be making up for that for the rest of my long life."
"… killed by an angry father after impregnating his triplet daughters," Ron snorted quietly. "My arse." He was rewarded with laughter.
Harry grinned, and took Tonks hand. "My lady? Correction — my ladies? Would you be willing to retire with me to the Room of Requirement, so that we may continue our very necessary conversation?"
"Only if you walk in front of us," Ginny quipped. "We want to look at your nice tight Quidditch arse."
"It’s a deal, ladies," he laughed, leading them from the common room.