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This Death and That Death and That One Over There...

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A wand, thirteen and a half inches, yew, levelled itself at his forehead, at his scar. There was a high-pitched, whispered incantation, and he was aware of the sensation of falling, and when he was sure that his body had hit the ground, there was no jerk and flump of hitting the hard-packed earth.

He was falling, he was floating, he was flying. He was a contradiction of verbs, a voice popped up helpfully.

Harry was made aware of a presence forming next to him, like a ghost out of the ether. He could feel it latch onto him, and meld with his sense of self. It was a strange feeling, like discovering you had an extra limb.

He could feel again. There was a hard stone floor beneath him (tile, his mind identified), grungy with sand and dirt that many feet tracked in. There was light, but there was darkness.

"Open your eyes," a dry voice said. A woman's voice, heavily accented with an Asian language.

Oh, right.

Green eyes blinked open, looking at the Japanese woman crouching above him. Information and memories and identities were trickling into his mind—nothing registered in his on-stun brain.

"Hello, Death."

Right. He died. Sad. Well, no, not really. His life wasn't all that happy. He sat up, looking around for the aforementioned Death, but saw no one but the woman. He looked at her, green eyes silently asking if she could see something that he couldn't.

"You are Death," she said in response. "You gathered the items, did you not?"

She was four steps and a game of hopscotch ahead of him, he felt. He was still processing the fact that he was dead, that he could see his parents and Sirius and Cedric and all of those who had been killed or labeled as missing but everyone knew they were gone, that all he had to do to see his friends again was wait, because death is inevitable, no matter if you make the Philosopher's Stone.

"Hey," she said, poking him with a sharp, manicured fingernail between the eyes. "Are you stupid or just deaf?"

He ignored her, slowly coming up to the present. You are Death, he finally remembered what she said. Dread filled him—death was all-encompassing, immortal, and unchanging. Was he the same if he was Death?

"No," he said in denial, a sharp weight like he'd swallowed a brick resting in his stomach.

"Well then, you could at least deign to respond," she said, irritated. "I know it was a bit of an info dump, I had a migraine for a week, let me tell you, but I was aware."

"No," he repeated, whispering, listening to her and conducting a search of his mind. "No, NO!" He was Hades, he was Osirius, he was Hel, he was Donn and Mors and San la Muerte. He was the ultimate form of a person with multiple personalities. He was tall, dark, and broody, and blueberry-blue and cheerful with kids, he was a woman (and boy did that feel weird) with half his (her?) body rotted, and a man with a decapitated head that liked singing. He was a thief of souls, stealing them away in the night, and an animated skeleton that liked reading. And he was a dead teenager with bad eyesight and messy black hair.

Harry was doubled over, half-yelling, half-sobbing, half-desperate, half-pleading, and he knew that he was out of his mind because four halves did not make a whole.

He could feel his already fragile psyche bend and then shatter into a billion pieces, scattering into the ether as he struggled to keep up with the seven thousand years' worth of information and alternate Deaths.

It could have been two seconds, it could have been two centuries, but he took a deep, shuddering breath, his mind as Harry Potter scrambling back together. He felt his body swaying, the sounds of sobbing and great raindrops—no, tears—splashing on him. Hagrid.

"See your great hero," a high-pitched voice projected across a vast space. A thousand voices cried his name. "Set him on the ground."

Hagrid was shaking so badly that Harry feared he wouldn't be able to. There were voices in his head, offering comments—snarky and otherwise—platitudes, reassurances. There were a couple who weren't even talking to him, but someone else in their respective realms. There were voices that he listened to with his ears as well, mostly variations of strongly-worded denials.

What were they denying?

They think you're dead, idiot!

Oh.

His thoughts paused. Voldemort, right. Forgot about him.

One of the other deities snickered.

Other deities. He was a deity? Was he a deity? A god? Blegh. He sounded like Malfoy. Stick with deity. Doesn't sound so conceited.

The snickers in his head increased.

There was the sound of yelling and a taunting, high-pitched voice, and it brought Harry back to his body. Right. Lying in the middle of a warzone. Great idea, Harry.

The snickers turned into laughter.

Shush. Snickers don't help playing my image of being dead.

The deity responsible sent him an image of the candy bar, and Harry sent him back the image of him facepalming.

By the time I get used to this, I am going to be the ultimate multi-tasker.

Multiple gods roared with laughter.

I'm not trying to be funny. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how that was funny.

Spells were being yelled, and he firmly shunted the laughter in his head away so that he could concentrate on the war. He opened his eyes, whipping his invisibility cloak out from under his shirt and throwing it over himself, getting an idea of what was going on. Fights were breaking out everywhere, and Nagini's head lie severed from her body. Triumph flooded through him.

Tone it down, please, sir.

Harry arched an unseen eyebrow. Sir? That's just weird.

"I have won the war! Why do you continue to fight? It is pointless!" Voldemort laughed.

Harry felt one of the other deities peeking in.

This guy cheated death for years. Anyone like drama?

For all their revered status, they sure behaved like preschool children with their feelings of 'pick me! pick me!', Harry mused. He stood in the center of the Great Hall, he was now realizing, inside the circle of space that Voldemort had cleared. He whisked the cloak off himself, smirking. "Not as long as I live, Tommy-boy. And I plan on living for a very long time."

How long is that going to be, anyway?

He felt the goddess's amusement as she answered him, A very long time, sir.

Sir. Blegh.

Laughter.

"HARRY!"

Harry was suppressing laughter as Voldemort looked positively bug-eyed. His head rang with the Death deities' evil cackles. "You! Why—don't—you—ever—die!" Each word was punctuated with some rather nasty spells.

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Now that isn't very nice.

The god who said that reminded Harry very much so of a more snarky Snape.

"Expell—Patronum!"

What are you doing?

Oh please, if 'love' is the power he doesn't know about, then do a love-based spell! Not the silly disarming one!

Despite the abrupt crossover from spell to spell mid-word, Prongs still came prancing out of his wand, lowering his antlers and charging head-on into the Killing Curse, meeting it dead-on. The two spells erupted in a wash of love and hate.

See?

Shut up. Didn't do much except knock me on my arse, now did it?

It blocked an unblockable curse. He—it was most definitely a he at the moment—sounded ridiculously smug.

It still knocked me on my arse. Harry took a look around. Along with everyone else, it seems.

See? Very useful.

Harry just laughed a little as he scrambled to his feet, his wand leveled at the groaning Voldemort.

That was when he realized that he felt better than he had in…years, actually. He might not be exactly happy with inadvertently becoming Master of Death (why did Dumbledore give him the blasted Stone?!), but all the gods talking and interacting with him—unbiased, humorous snark that no one in the Wizarding World gave him but so enjoyed, and actually feeling secure in the knowledge that he was welcomed into the (unexpectedly large) family of Death gods. Dying seemed to have rejuvenated him for some unknown reason, fixing all the little aches and pains that he never consciously realized he had.

Honey, if we didn't have some kind of a sense of humor, we would have all killed each other off a very long time ago, Hela said, tone immensely amused.

And, whether you like it or not, you were essentially reborn. Like your phoenix, almost. About a year from now—probably less—you'll be fully immortal.

!!!! was Harry's mental exclamation.

What? Death gods don't just pop out of the woodwork for no apparent reason, Osirius said, laughing. All of us were mortal at one point, and occasionally, die and pass on the traits of the god to another person. Some gods split their attention, hosting in bodies, or make their own. Like me, I only became immortal when I died a couple years ago.

I have friends! I have a girl that I want to get married to! I never wanted to be a Master of Death!

Why did you have the items, then?

The Cloak was a family heirloom, the Wand I was trying to keep out of the hands of Voldemort and didn't realize that I had its ownership until I died, and the Stone was willed to me.

"POOOOTTTTER!" Voldemort yelled.

One of the deities seemed to laugh hysterically. You became Master of Death through CIRCUMSTANCE?!

"Here," Harry said absently. He could feel a maniac grin stretch across his face, and felt faintly disturbed at himself.

Hela snorted with laughter. Sorry, sir, that was some of me bleeding over.

I don't think you death gods understand how truly disturbing that sounds, Harry said to her.

Give it a year's time and you'll be a death god, too, Osiris reminded him.

"Oh, bloody wonderful," Harry muttered aloud.

Voldemort launched into his second attack.

Ooooo, look at all the pretty colors, Coatlicue cooed.

That's not very helpful, Leelee, Izanami said dryly.

Harry got vague impressions that they were both creation goddesses and got along rather well, despite their origins on opposite sides of the world.

Coatlicue huffed. May I, my lord?

Oh my god, you can do whatever you want as long as you don't call me that again! Harry yelped in his head.

There was a lot of laughter in response to that statement, from all the death deities. Harry paid them only half a mind as his vision seemed to double for a moment and he could actually see Coatlicue coming near him. With black irises and hair and tanned skin, she was rather startling and intimidating to look at with her leather armor that wrapped around her torso and a skirt of snakes.

Yes, a skirt of snakes. Harry had to double check to make sure that he was seeing her right.

She got close enough to touch and then seemed to be sucked into him. Harry found himself all of a sudden observing his movements rather than being in control.

"Oh, Tom Riddle!" Harry sang, skipping out of the way of another curse. "I'm not very happy with you!"

Voldemort gave him a wordless snarl and sent a Killing Curse.

If you get me killed now, after I've adjusted to having a bunch of snarky immortals in my head, I will not be very happy with you.

Hela laughed aloud. Be careful, it might tickle. Sir, you've begun the transformation into a death deity. A measley little curse would probably feel like someone blew a feather in your face. Possibly amusing, possibly irritating, and most definitely not lethal.

Now if someone had cut off your head… Hades added.

Shut up, Hades. No one asked for your opinion, Hela snarked back.

Well then—

Shut up, both of you, Coatlicue said. Or do you want to miss it?

The Killing Curse splashed across Harry's chest, and he sneezed.

Are you kidding me?! Harry yelled incredulously.

Everyone looked at Harry in shock. At least he acted dead for a while before he came back last time. Shrugging it off was just…unfathomable.

Harry sneezed again.

I think you guys forgot that I've been Master of Death for all of fifteen minutes, Harry thought. That's seriously irritating. It's like I have Crookshanks standing on my chest and directing all his fur up my nose.

That's cats for you, Osiris grumbled.

I thought that Egyptians were supposed to like cats? Hades questioned.

Bast is driving me crazy. Her and my two kids. Osiris replied.

That's so weird, Harry said.

He got a definite sense of amusement from the blue god.

"I hate to cut off the fun," Harry said apologetically, "but I kind of need your soul now, before I burn out Harry's."

Excuse me?

If you were a normal person, that's what would happen eventually if one of us possessed you. We would burn out your soul. Gods can use souls like wands, basically, Osiris explained. But even fifteen minutes into the transformation, you're quite a bit hardier than a normal human.

He was quite a bit hardier than a normal human long before the transformation started, Osiris, Hades said dryly.

The Great Hall was staring as Harry cheerfully continued between Voldemort's curses.

"Excuse me?!" Hermione shrieked. "Who are you, then?!"

"My apologies," Harry said. "Harry kindly lent me the use of his body for the moment. My name is Coatlicue, I am one of the many death goddesses from your Aztec mythology."

I wasn't planning on telling them that I was toting around thirty plus death deities in my head, but okay, whatever works. Their faces are priceless, Harry said gleefully.

"Hades wanted to come, but his temper tends to get out of hand, and the Reaper's cloak would have turned pink with the amount of cursing around here," Coatlicue said cheerfully. "So I came! Of course, it's a bit cold to be wearing leather and snakes, so I borrowed Harry here."

Harry himself could almost hear Hades bury his head in his hands. He wasn't sure if the god was laughing or groaning at his shot reputation.

Yes, Thantos said.

Harry paused, trying to place him. …Greek?

Yup.

Well then, if you're the Greek god of Death, what is Hades?

I'm the one that makes sure that those who are dead, stay dead, Hades said dryly. Trust me, it's a thankless job. My title is the Greek god of the Underworld, or god of the dead, not god of death, or the actual act of dying.

The Greeks have too many deities for how long they lasted, Harry remarked.

"What is an Aztec goddess doing here, on the other side of the world?" Hermione said, puzzled.

Harry's face smirked. "Welcoming a new death deity, of course." Then he seemed to reach out and yank at Voldemort, and the magical construct collapsed like a puppet without strings. "Thanks!"

Yes, leave me with explaining that, Coatlicue, thanks, Harry grumbled, and seemed to stumble back into his body.

"…That was a strange experience," Harry said aloud, shaking his head like he was coming up from water.

"Harry—what did you do?!" Hermione shrieked.

"I didn't do anything!" Harry protested.

You gave permission, Coatlicue said helpfully.

"That's not the way that I thought Voldemort would die, admittedly, but that works too, mate," Ron said cheerfully.

That seemed to be the cue to the rest of the masses—oh yeah, Voldemort was dead—and mobbed Harry.

Harry was still protesting that he hadn't done anything.

Chapter Text

"What are you doing now?"

That's not going to work.

The two sentences came at the exact same time and left his head spinning a bit.

"I'm going to see if I can split them up again," Harry said.

That's not going to work.

"Harry, those things did something to you," Hermione said. "It's not likely for them to let you go so soon."

Thank you, whoever you are.

Hades, SHUT UP!

Touchy, touchy.

Harry looked at her. "Did something to me?"

She struggled for words.

"You're more comfortable in yourself," Ron said awkwardly. "More confident. Hardier, too, physically."

That's the immortality kicking in.

"Look, the Killing Curse was probably because of—"

"The Killing Curse was just the beginning," Hermione said, sounding disbelieving in her own words. "The Killing Curse is more spiritual than physical, but the curses that you did accidentally run into…I looked them up. My god, Harry, you should be dead a dozen times over, regardless of the goddess of death that inhabited your body for fifty seconds."

…I didn't notice those. Oops. Sorry, Harry.

Harry ran his hand through his hair, his other gripping the Wand and Stone hard enough that the Wand, at least, should have cracked. He sighed. "Okay."

Did you want some help?

No. I would have ended up telling them sooner or later, but I wanted to get used to the idea myself first. Hermione's a bit too bright, though. He gave a mental snort of laughter. Or, she knows her way around the library too well.

"I'm going to go check out the Room of Requirement and see what's survived the fire," he finally said, sending his friends a look.

"We'll come with," Hermione said. Ron nodded.

Harry brushed by Hermione, leaning in close and whispering, "Little crazier than usual."

She looked faintly alarmed.

Two floors later, and they were staring at the burnt wreck of the Room of Requirement. Harry closed the door again, and envisioned the Gryffindor Common Room while pacing back and forth, then opened it again. It was the Common Room, all right. Some of the seats were charred, some altogether missing, and one banner still glowed with heat.

"Interesting," Harry said slowly. He heard the door shut behind him.

It will likely go back to normal within a few weeks of the school year, Osiris said. Your Fiendfyre likely hasn't truly gone out yet, and the Room is reflecting that, as well as the massive destruction of items that it likely transported back and forth between requested rooms.

"Harry, what's going on? A 'little crazier than usual'?"

"Turns out that being Master of Death is a little bit more of an undertaking than anyone thought," Harry said dryly. "To say the least crazy part of this, I have thirty or forty death deities I'm regularly interacting with at any given moment. The most, those same deities are the ones who are saying that I'll likely be immortal by the year's end."

Is that how you normally tell people about your problems? Just dump it on them and let them stare at you like an owl? Hades asked curiously.

Correction, that's how I normally tell Ron and Hermione about whatever problems I have. They're used to it. He paused. Well, mostly. Every once in a while I'll throw a curve ball at them.

There was a lot of laughter in his head.

"You're the new death deity that Coatlicue was talking about," Hermione whispered.

Yup.

"Uh-huh."

Ron buried his face in his hands. "Mate, you are the weirdest person that I've ever met."

"Uh-huh."

Hermione knotted her fingers in her hair. "This doesn't make any sense. I don't understand. A stick, a stone, and an invisibility cloak make someone have MPD and spontaneously immortal?"

Should I be offended? Coatlicue asked curiously.

Uh…I don't think so, Harry said uncertainly. Actually, that's a damn good question. The spontaneously immortal one, not the offended one.

Harry didn't actually get an answer for a long time, a mass feeling of helpless shrugging rolling through his head.

It would have made more sense if you had actually sought out the pieces, San la Muerte, a talking skeleton, said. It definitely would have made more sense if you were originally an egotistical maniac with a phobia of death.

"Thanks," Harry muttered. Ron and Hermione peered at him a little closer. He shook his head. "I don't know, Hermione. They—" he flapped an arm uselessly at his side, indicating to the rest of the death gods, "don't know. Quote, 'it would have made more sense if you were originally an egotistical maniac with a phobia of death'."

Ron snorted with laughter.

Sir, you have to admit this is strange, Hela said. A random, mortal teenager comes by powerful artifacts by chance, gets saved from dying, and gets help with wiping his enemy off the face of the mortal plane.

I already know that it's strange, Harry said irritably, ignoring the 'sir'. Merlin, my life was strange as a mortal. I got that. I was revered for tossing off a killing curse that was the fault of my mother, not me.

There was a long pause in his head.

Ron suddenly screamed. It sounded very girly.

Harry whirled and was suddenly faced with vertigo of being tied to two places at once, and put a hand to his forehead and grasped at Hermione's shoulder for balance. He could see his own face turn white.

"Sorry," Hela said apologetically. "I know how disorienting it is. But everyone else is simply stunned into silence and looking for Lily Potter, and I'd like to check the impact site."

Hela's visage was even more frightening than Coatlicue's. Half her body was dead. Literally. Her living half had flawless, porcelain skin that was unnaturally pale, without a flush of blood in her cheeks. Her dead half had dark grey, dried flesh tied to the bones. One eye was perfectly healthy, with a black iris shrouding the pupil. The other eye was nonexistent, a magic spark of yellow substituting in the empty eye socket. She wore a normal, forest green dress, and it was making Harry dizzy. Expression: kind. Dress: normal. Words: sincere. Face: terrifyingly inhuman.

Hermione released a slow, controlled breath. "H-Harry?"

Harry was proud of her. Her stutter was barely noticeable. His head still spinning, he carefully waved to Hela. "Hermione, this is the Lady Goddess Hela, goddess of the dead and ruler of Niflheim and Helheim. Hela, this is Hermione Granger, one of my two best friends of my mortal life. Please don't try to kill each other over my well-being."

Hela snorted. "Not my jurisdiction. She's Reaper's."

"Would still appreciate it if you didn't kill her and ship her off to Reaper," Harry said pointedly.

She rolled her living eye, and the little spark did a swirl that Harry guessed was equivalent to an eyeroll. "Yes, Master."

Harry scowled at her. "You remember that conversation that Coatlicue and I had?"

"The one about the 'my lord'?"

"That's the one."

"I do."

He took a step forward, within arm's distance of her, and poked her in the sternum, right between the collarbones. "Then you know that I'm six hours into the transformation thing, and killing me is still fairly easy."

Ron snorted with laughter. Both Harry and Hela ignored him.

"San la Muerte said that it would have made more sense if I was a death-phobic megalomaniac—"

That's not what I said!

"It's close enough!" Harry snapped. "And it also would have made more sense if I had actually gone searching for the Hallows!"

"We did," Hermione said. "Kind of."

Harry and Hela ignored her, too.

"But I didn't," Harry continued, poking her again in the same spot, "and you calling me something like that only says that I actually have some kind of rule over you—which, if I do, I don't particularly want—or it says that you think I'm some kind of death-phobic megalomaniac—which, I honestly think that I'm not, but feel free to correct me."

"You're not," all three said at the same time.

"No 'my lord'," he said, glaring at Hela, and projecting his argument to the rest of the gods. "No 'my lord', no 'master', no 'my liege', no 'sire'. You guys call each other by your names, do me a favor and do the same to me!"

You're going to be known as a hothead, Osiris said thoughtfully.

And that has…what relevance with the price of cheese in China?

Absolutely none, but I must commend you on the marvelous flames. I like that shade of blue.

Harry snapped out of his head and away from Hela's amused, mismatched eyes. Intricate patterns of electric blue fire spiraled from his ratty trainers. "What the…"

Hela stood in the flames, unharmed. She cocked her head, shiny, mousy brown hair falling over her shoulders. "I think you need training before you blow up the world."

Harry raked both hands through his spiky hair and groaned.

Chapter Text

"Mate. How do you stand all of the…"

"Morbidity? Death gods? Craziness?"

"Yes?"

Harry thought for a moment. "I don't know. Perhaps that's my superpower as a new death…person. Standing up to crazy death gods and their macabre jokes."

Hermione burst out laughing. "How is your training going?"

"I feel like Seamus," Harry groused. "We could seriously make a demolition company. Give Seamus a wand and tell him to poke me with it enough times, we'll destroy anything you want."

Hermione stuffed her fist in her mouth to stifle her giggles. Ron was badly masking a grin.

"And possibly some things that you didn't want destroyed," Harry added, just to see if he could make Ron laugh.

He decided to count it a win when Ron snorted.

You're doing well, if that helps.

"Nope, that really doesn't help," Harry said, faux-cheerfully. "Telling me that I'm doing well in not blowing up the world is really not reassuring."

Ron raised his eyebrows in question.

"Hela," Harry said.

I blew up the Rosetta Stone when I merged with Osiris, Osiris said thoughtfully.

"You blew up the Rosetta Stone?" Harry asked incredulously. "But wouldn't that have—"

I put it back together, the blue god hastily assured him.

"Who blew up the Rosetta Stone?" Hermione aske curiously.

"Osiris. When the mortal got recycled into the god. Which makes no sense, but there's immortality for you," Harry said, shrugging. "He said that he put it back together, but still."

Killed the mortal and almost killed my kids, Osiris said. So take it from me: don't get mad. You'll end up like Hades.

Excuse me?

Hades sounded so much like an offended, American teenage girl that Harry just started laughing helplessly.

If you want to talk about temper, let's talk Zeus. My—

The Greek god of the dead proceeded into a very long and swear-riddled rant that Harry punctuated with laughter and the occasional tear that escaped.

"Are you okay, Harry?"

Harry gasped for breath. "Think Snape. Then imagine him imitating an American teenage girl who just got offended."

They both sat there.

"I can't picture it," Ron finally said. Hermione shook her head in agreement.

Harry twisted his features into an approximation of an irritated scowl, relaxing his throat and deepening his voice to sound like Hades, a smooth, sarcastic drawl of: "Excuse me?" that was so at odds to his terrifying countance.

Hermione pursed her lips, and finally began to snicker, then laugh.

You insist on ruining my image.

Only amongst friends, Harry promised. And I don't have very many mortal ones, so your secrets are mostly safe.

Hades grumbled for a moment but eventually subsided.

"Harry," Hermione said. "Are you planning on…staying?"

No.

"I'd like to—"

No.

Harry arched an eyebrow, but continued doggedly. "—especially since I'm already in the public eye—"

An even better reason for 'no'.

"—and probably as a bit for normalcy while doing—"

No.

"Hades!" Harry exclaimed.

"'Doing Hades'?" Ron asked.

"While dealing with gods galore," Harry said. "Especially irritating ones that insist on interrupting every six words!"

To be fair, Hades has a point, Morrigan said. It was immediately obvious that something had changed you even fifteen minutes into the transformation…what is it going to be like by next April when it's been completed? You'll never be able to hide. You'll be lucky to retain your human appearance.

"What's going on?" Hermione asked when Harry fell silent for a bit.

"Morrigan's saying that I'll never be able to hide, and that my eventual appearance is kind of up-for-grabs," Harry said.

"Morrigan?" Hermione asked.

"Celtic goddess of violent death," Harry said. "I have so many gods and goddesses in my head, and basically, only Hades can still pass as human at a glance."

"Oh," Ron said. "But what about glamours?"

Gods and magic might seem like they go hand-in-hand, but it's actually the exact opposite, Osirus said. Well, not for your magic. You'll probably have to learn a new brand of magic.

Hecate is the closest thing that there is to a goddess of magic in the Greek pantheon, Hades said.

Isis is ours, Osirus said. Magic and death don't tend to cross, but they do tend to meet every once in a while.

Harry relayed this to his friends. Ron laughed and said, "Yeah, magic and death have met and they had you as a result. Twenty quid says that you'll do the unexpected."

"I don't take sucker bets, Ron," Hermione said dryly.

"Ha ha," Harry said sarcastically, but was actually amused.

Your friends are crazy, Hela said, also sounding amused.

They kept up with me, didn't they? Harry said. Of course they are. Heck, Hermione saved my neck so many times it's funny.

You do realize that the saying is 'so many times it's not funny'?

That part got bypassed sometime during fourth year.

Should we set a book nearby that turns her into the goddess of hopeless cases? Morrigan asked, sounding half amused and half concerned.

Harry laughed aloud.

"Who said what?" Ron asked.

"Hela said that you two are bonkers, and I said that you two tagged along with my adventures, didn't you? And I said that Hermione saved my neck so many times it's funny. Hela tried correcting me and I said that we passed that sometime in fourth year."

Ron nodded in acknowledgement.

"Then Morrigan chipped in with, 'Should we set a book nearby that turns her into the goddess of hopeless cases?'"

Hermione huffed and crossed her arms indignantly as Ron laughed, but Harry could see her lips twitching. "Pulling you out of trouble for eternity? Well, at least I wouldn't be bored."

And that's what we're concerned about, Anubis said dryly.

"Watch it, Hermione could end the world if she got bored enough. I'm still convinced that the Polyjuice in second year was because you wanted to see if it actually worked or if they were having you on," Harry said.

Polyjuice?

"Polyjuice is an extremely complicated potion that is normally brewed to pass a class in seventh year," Harry said. "It can change your appearance to match someone else's. Hermione brewed it—essentially on a whim—in second year."

Dead silence went on in his head, and he imagined the crickets chirping.

Hades snorted with laughter. Morrigan, if you give her that book I'm sure that the rest of the gods are going to try to kill you.

Oh? Why? Morrigan asked.

Because look what they've done in six years of being MORTAL! Anubis screeched.

Harry spluttered with laughter helplessly.

They'll revolutionize the world—mortal, mythological, metaphysical, d) all of the above—in another hundred years, Hela said mildly.

You mean they'll become joint mob boss for all the various demons and monsters that roam the world, San La Muerte said dryly.

Harry cried. He sat down on the floor and laughed with tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Harry?" Ron asked cautiously.

"Mob boss," Harry quoted, gasping for air.

"What?" Hermione asked, startled.

Good job, people, you broke him, Reaper said.

"No, no," Harry said.

We didn't mean to, Morrigan said.

"Harry," Hermione said, "are you okay?"

See, even the mortal girl thinks we broke him, San La Muerte.

"Can we go back to the crickets?" Harry asked.

The rest of the gods listening burst into laughter.

Harry took a deep breath and calmed himself, looking up at Ron and Hermione. "Hades said that if Morrigan gave you that book, Hermione, the rest of the gods would be trying to murder her. She asked why, and Anubis pointed out what we'd done as mortals with six years together. Hela said that we'd revolutionize the world, and San La Muerte corrected that into us being joint mob bosses—" he spluttered with laughter a bit, then reigned himself in, "for the demons and monsters around the world."

And you did not break me, he added to the rest of the gods.

"In other words, be careful of the books you pick up, Herms," Ron said, laughing.

"Great," Hermione muttered. "Just what I need. Limited knowledge base."

Morrigan snorted so hard Harry sneezed in an attempt to get rid of the sensation.


 

Harry fell out of bed the next day. Hades laughed at him. So did Ron.

"Mate, you okay?" his friend asked between sputters of laughter.

"Edge of the bed was closer than I thought," Harry muttered into the rough stone, not bothering to move just yet.

"Come on," Ron said, his voice obviously trembling with the effort of not laughing any more. He grasped one of Harry's wrists and hauled him upright. Harry stumbled when he was on his feet again, looking between his friend and the floor.

Ron looked just as surprised as Harry felt. "Did you seriously grow six or seven centimeters overnight?"

"No," Harry said. "I'm wearing stilts. Can't you tell?"

Harry clearly heard the half-laugh, half-exasperated sigh from Hela. You are a teenager. You are endlessly sarcastic.

"You know, I wasn't half as sarcastic before I had a truckload of sassy and sarcastic gods dumped in my head," Harry said.

"I know," Ron agreed. "There was more angry brooding and pacing enough to literally wear down the stone floor."

Several other death gods laughed at Ron's comment.

Maybe that is his power, San la Muerte suggested. Wearing things out that should not be able to be worn out.

How reassuring, said Morrigan, that he was able to do this as a mortal and not a god.

"Somehow, I highly doubt that wearing holes in stone floors is a superpower," Harry said.

Ron snickered.

Harry carefully got dressed and went downstairs, where Hermione looked up at him…and blinked. Then she looked down at his shoes.

"See, Ron, I told you that I'm wearing stilts," Harry said.

Ron poked him in the side. "No, Herms, he actually grew a ridiculous amount overnight."

"Nothing like a Killing Curse to kick-start a growth spurt," Harry said cheerfully.

All of the deities who happened to be listening sputtered with laughter. Hermione covered up her eyes like she couldn't bear to look at him, but her shoulders were shaking from silent laughter.

"I'm horrible for laughing at you," she said.

"Why?" Harry said.

"Because, when not connecting with you, the Killing Curse does not kick-start a growth spurt," Hermione said patiently.

"I know," Harry said.

"And I'm horrible for laughing at you because so many people have died because of it, and here I am, laughing at the one exception that had a really weird side-effect," Hermione said.

That might end up being your domain, Osiris said. Killing Curse victims.

That would actually make sense, Morrigan said thoughtfully.

Speaking of, has anyone found Lily Potter yet? Hades asked.

She's not in my realm, Reaper said.

Nor mine, Hela said.

Nope, Osiris said.

Not my jurisdiction. Or the right hemisphere, San la Muerte said.

Same, Coatlicue said.

Not in my realm, Izanami said.

Not here, Donn said.

Nor here, Mors said.

I've got nothing, Pluto said.

Silence.

"Morrigan?" Harry asked tentatively.

It would make sense for her to be in my area of death, the goddess said slowly. I'm not finding her. But, going off of what Osiris suggested…can any of us find any Killing Curse victims?

Harry felt himself being forced onto the couch.

"It's formed already?" Harry said weakly. "I don't even know how to get there."

We don't know that yet, Hela said reassuringly.

I've got Riddle, Reaper said. Does that count?

The guy was killed so many different ways that he belongs in half a dozen realms at the same time, Hades said in disgust.

Izanami asked, Are you alone, Harry?

Harry took a glance around the Common Room, abruptly realizing that he was on the couch.

"Um, at risk of sounding like a prat, you look like death," Ron said.

Harry forced himself up. "The Room. Incoming."

It probably didn't make all that much sense, or maybe it did, but Harry was in the other realms, for the most part.

Ron steadied him as Harry fought to coordinate his body.

I'm working on it. What do you need, Izanami?

If it has formed already, then you need to know how to get there and maintain it, the ancient Japanese goddess said.

"I don't know how this works," Harry admitted in a very small voice.

"Harry?" Hermione asked, half-supporting him. "We're almost there."

It's just like learning magic, Hades soothed. It's new and different and then it's normal.

"How is this my life?"

"You're only just now asking that?" Ron asked incredulously.

Hades and Hela laughed.

Technically, this isn't your life, Hela said helpfully. It's your death.

"That really, really doesn't help my nervousness, Hela!"

I'm not finding anyone, Donn said. But then, most of mine are sickness and diseases.

Neither am I, San la Muerte said. I will miss talking with Hildago. We had fascinating discussions of the difference between immortality and death.

"Mate, we're in the Room," Ron said. "Who's incoming?"

"Izanami," Harry said. "I'm alone. Well, mostly, but Ron and Hermione know."

For an ancient goddess of a culture of a people who were generally short in comparison to modern day's average heights, she was fairly tall, even a bit taller than Hermione. Her long black hair was pulled away from her face with a clip and she wore a long shirt in the style of a kimono. Black slacks and black and silver trainers made for an innocuous picture, except for her skin: pale but with intricate black designs everywhere, like the backs of her hands, her arms, her neck, her face, the rims of her ears, complete with black irises surrounding her pupil.

Ron's breath hitched, but otherwise, there was no reaction.

"Hermione, we need to work on your non-reaction to the literal face of death," Harry said. 

"On the contrary," Hermione said. "If you're a face of death, or will be, I will gladly laugh in it."

Ron snorted, then stopped like he was trying not to laugh. Then he sniggered loudly enough for Harry to elbow him. "You're helpful," Harry muttered.

"Sorry, mate. You're on your own."

Izanami laughed, loud and brash. "I must admit, it's refreshing. Now, let's go find some new portion of the universe. Ta-ta!"

She linked arms with Harry as Ron backed away, and skipped.

Chapter Text

When they stopped, Harry breathed for a moment and tried not to spew.

"I hate travelling by magic," he said after a very long minute of controlling his rebellious stomach.

"Maaaan, you are British," was the unexpected response.

He opened his eyes. On his left laid sprawling London: tall, narrow flats interspersed with renovated inns, the British Museum, Cleopatra's Needle, Charing Cross, Big Ben, the Tower of London, and some of Harry's favorite restaurants that surrounded the entrance to Diagon Alley when he managed to sneak out during the summer before third year. Despite these landmarks being nowhere near each other, Harry could pick them out like he could see through the buildings, like the buildings were mere fog that he could see through. It made no sense, especially considering what was to his right.

On his right laid a moor, the type of field that he saw when going from Little Whinging to London. It was dotted with manors and cottages and houses of all sizes and shapes (and impractical balancing acts, likely aided by magic), and Harry was pretty sure that he spotted a few Quidditch hoops.

"I haven't exactly been out of the country," Harry said absently, spinning in place to get a better look. "Where is everyone? London is never this quiet."

"Did you miss the fact that this isn't London?" Izanami asked curiously.

"I'm quite sure that even if this was London filled with victims of the Killing Curse only, that it would be as full as regular London is, if not moreso," Harry replied. He stepped to his left, getting a sudden rush of vertigo as the landscape rushed to envelope him. He now stood on a random London street, surrounded on all sides by the city of the dead. As soon as he did so, the people appeared. The city came to life.

Izanami popped into existence behind him and blinked a few times. "Oh. You choose if you want the country or the city life. That's pretty cool."

A child of about ten came up to them and said, "Hey mister, you probably need to go thataways," and wandered off.

'Thataways' turned out to be somewhere to his right. Lacking a better idea, he complied. Izanami followed.

At a loss as to what he was supposed to find, Harry stuck to the sidewalks and played a dancing game with a redheaded woman about his age, maybe a bit older, while they tried to get by one another and kept turning in the same direction to avoid each other. Izanami laughed with him and planted him in place, saying, "Sit still, Harry, and let the woman by."

The woman stopped. "Harry?"

Harry looked at her for a moment, not really recognizing her. At the same time that he really looked at her and spotted her eyes, Izanami said, "Mrs. Potter!"

Small wonder that he hadn't recognized his own mother. He was used to seeing her face twisted in adrenaline and fear, or not even fully looking at the camera as she looked at his father and his friends. The few photos of her looking at the camera, she was grinning from ear-to-ear. She looked nothing like her photos with her face lined in polite amusement or stunned and disbelieving.

"Mum," he said finally, not really sure what to do.

"Why are you dead?!" she half-screeched in fear, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly.

"If it helps, he's not," Izanami said helpfully. "Harry, don't set the bakery on fire."

Harry pulled back from the hug just long enough to squash out the blue flames dancing around a loaf of bread, now rather charred.

"What do you mean 'he's not'?" his mother asked, significantly less shrill. "Who are—oh."

Apparently his mother looked up and actually saw Izanami, in all her death goddess glory. She promptly detangled herself from Harry and curtsied.

"He's not actually dead," Izanami said, looking vaguely uncomfortable as she waved at his mother to stand again. "Through a rather unusual set of circumstances, he's now the death god in charge of the AK victims."

Lily Potter looked from Izanami—who, despite her humanoid body, looked only vaguely human—to her son, who was in his casual robes and some Muggle clothes underneath, the picture of normal wizardry.

"Is this where I call bullshit?" she asked flatly.

Harry burst into laughter.


When Harry came back from the realm of the dead—his realm of the dead, which was even weirder—giggling like a loon, Hermione looked concerned.

"Who called bullshit?" Ron asked immediately.

Harry's giggles blew up into laughter again, then guffaws. Izanami looked irritated. "He's been giggling since five minutes into his realm."

I can't blame him, Hela said.

"You were only gone for ten minutes," Hermione said.

His realm actually subscribes to time? Why couldn't my realm do that? Hades grumped.

"My mother," Harry gasped out, "my mother—practically canonized Lily Potter—took one look at Izanami and me and called bullshit as soon as Izanami said that I wasn't dead but a death god."

San la Muerte laughed aloud, but only Harry could hear him.

Hermione forced down the giggles at the idea of Lily Potter, whose story had been scrubbed clean after her death and her son's inexplicable living, calling bullshit to two deities…one of whom was her son, which made the whole situation even funnier.

"And Dad," Harry wheezed.

"He looked rather bleak," Izanami agreed, smirking a bit.

"He said, 'Well. That's one way to do it.' And sat on the couch."

One way to do what? Die? Morrigan asked.

I guess so, Coatlicue responded.

More like not-die, Donn said.

"Why did you make your realm so mundane? The couch still had plastic wrap on it," Izanami asked.

"What?" Ron asked blankly.

What?

Hermione looked at Harry strangely. "They just got transferred to a new realm so they…have to move in?"

"Apparently," Izanami said.

"So, utterly mundane world. What happens to the wizards who have no idea what to do in the Muggle world?" Hermione asked.

"It's not like they can get hungry or freeze to death," Ron pointed out. "They're already dead."

If we're making Hermione the goddess of hopeless cases, he's going to be the god of tact, Mors said.

Harry snorted and Izanami covered up a grin.

"Sensitivity, Ron," Hermione said.

She truly is the goddess of hopeless cases, Donn agreed.

"The only people who care that they're dead is Moaning Myrtle, Hermione," Ron said. "And the only reason why Nearly-Headless Nick protests is because he's only Nearly-Headless, and not All-The-Way Headless."

Izanami said, "I'm leaving."

If you haven't caught the crazy by now, don't tempt fate, Osiris said, laughter bubbling up in his voice.

Yes please, come here, I have something to show you, Izzy! Coatlicue said.

"Bye, Izanami," Harry said.

Run, Izanami, Anubis drawled. The mortals bite.

"No, we don't!" Harry exclaimed. Izanami vanished, shaking her head.

I don’t think that crazy is an airborne virus so it must be transferred some other way, Anubis said, poking fun.

"We don't what?" Hermione asked.

"Bite," Harry said. "And I don't think that crazy is a virus at all!"

"That's right, it's hereditary," Hermione said promptly.

Ron choked, and Morrigan roared with laughter.

"Okay, who was Hermione sassing?" Ron asked.

"Anubis," Harry said. "Morrigan's laughing, though."

Hopeless cases and sassing, Anubis said musingly. Which pantheon wants her?

None of them, because those three come as a set and they'll destroy the world if she's immortalized, Thanatos pointed out.

The Greeks are big on tragedy and inappropriate comedy, Morrigan teased.

The Celts are infamous for warrior and violent deaths in the face of sure defeat, Thanatos fired back.

Harry rubbed his forehead.

"What are they doing now?" Hermione asked curiously.

"Discussing which pantheon you'd be added to if/when you get thumped on the head with a magic book and immortalized," Harry said. "The general consensus is NO."

"No?" she questioned, a confused look on her face even as she started to grin.

"Us three will destroy the world if you're immortalized, the Greeks are big on tragedy and inappropriate comedy—said by Morrigan, the Celts are big on violent deaths in the face of sure defeat—said by Thanatos…basically trying to palm you off on someone else because no one wants to be in the blast radius. Despite the fact that normally I'm the blast radius and they don't seem to have a problem with me."

Okay, set me straight. How do you three work together? Morrigan asked.

"Morrigan asked how we three worked together," Harry said, addressing his two friends. "Through shitty fate or too much curiosity I end up neck-deep in trouble with some guidance—Hermione—and sheer dumb luck—Ron—helping me both into and out of trouble, which normally revolves around someone either really out for my guts or just faking it really well through propaganda and supposedly-impossible feats."

Hermione looked at him. "That's…actually pretty accurate for a run-on sentence."

"Are you trying to channel McGonagall?" Ron asked, amused. "I'm not sure if I should laugh at the 'sheer dumb luck' even if it's true."

"She put it best," Harry said, shrugging.

That's terrifying, Anubis said mildly.

"Sooo…Hermione's terrifying in her own right, but she doesn't stumble across trouble in its various incarnations like I do," Harry said.

Was that supposed to be reassuring? Hela asked.

"No," Harry said, laughing.

I suppose Daddy wouldn't mind being usurped for the position of Foretold Harbinger of Ragnarok, Hela mused.

"Who is 'Daddy', what is 'Rag-nar-yuck', and why is he supposed to be a harbinger of such?" Harry asked slowly.

Hermione laughed a little. "Ragnarok is the Norse prophecy of the end of the universe, which is supposed to be brought about by Loki."

"Loki Liesmith, god of Chaos, is your dad?" Harry said loudly to Hela, his voice inadvertently going an octave higher.

Harry could feel her kick back in her throne, radiating smugness. Yes. Yes he is.

"Why…that sounds like the best thing ever to you, Harry, but why? Loki is generally cast as the villain in the Edda," Ron asked curiously.

"Ron. Ron, think for a moment. Who am I the son of?"

Hermione looked confused for a split second before she starting giggling. "You're a fan! You're a fan of Loki! I never would have pegged you as a fan of him!"

Hela was gleefully cackling in the back of his mind as he grabbed Ron by the shoulders and shook him lightly. "I am the son of Prongs, Ron, and an investor in your brothers' prank shop. Loki is the god of chaos. The Trickster. You know me by now!" he said, almost shouting, "What am I perpetually stalked by?"

"Dark idiots?" Ron said.

"Well, yes," Harry acknowledged, "but CHAOS, Ron! My life is chaotic, Ron!"

"We know," Ron said dryly. "We were there for most of it."

"There are days where I just want to march up to him and punch him in his smug face but then there are days where I just want to get down on my knees and thank him for some of the best parts of my life," Harry said gleefully.

Daddy is the best, Hela agreed. Sometimes overly dramatic and angsty but a total badass and totally overprotective of us kids.

Are you going to tell Harry about how you got Helheim? Mors asked. That's the best story.

"I have not heard this story and I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it," Harry said immediately. "Because I'm assuming it involves Loki somehow and it's not just a sudden subject change."

The smug feeling from Hela intensified. So, the story starts with Odin being an asshat.

"Of course," Harry said, nodding.

Daddy is the whole Harbinger of Ragnarok and so Odin doesn't like him all that much, for all that he raised Daddy. So Daddy has kids and they're all "monsters"—Sleipnir, Fenrir, Jormungandr, and myself, of which three of us took the form of animals and the last is literally half dead. Odin ends up either imprisoning or exiling all of us to either the far reaches of Asgard or to other realms entirely.

"Complete asshat," Harry agreed. He wasn't familiar with the insult—it sounded American—but it was obviously an insult.

Hermione coughed in surprise. "Who's an asshat?"

"Odin," Harry said, intending on relaying the story in its entirety to them later.

So by the time Daddy has me, he's prepared to take me and run to wherever he needed to go to keep me safe. So one night he asked the All-Mother in secret to keep me safe and hidden for the entire next day from Odin, and she agrees. He then goes out and slaughters the demons of Helheim and conquers the realm.

Harry blinked. And blinked again. "He…conquered a realm for you? And then handed it over so that you could have your every whim indulged?"

Yep! Hela said cheerfully.

"I…don't know how to process how wicked that is," Harry said.

Hela, Donn, Mors, and Morrigan all began to laugh.