By one stroke, the murderer was victor and vanquished.
By one choice, the boy was salvation and damnation.
And by one Being, the world was forever changed.
On October 31, 1981, Lord Voldemort entered the Potters' Fidelius-entrusted home and made quick work of James Potter. For all the Auror Potter's renown magical skills, he was a pitiful, insignificant weakling. While the loss of magical blood was unfortunate, Voldemort remained unaffected. Whatever obstacles stood between him and the boy would be crushed. The boy was a threat, and Lord Voldemort did not tolerate such things.
He languidly stepped past the corpse of James Potter, striding towards the nursery upstairs. This was all too easy, too woefully disappointing. It was quite a shame that this momentous event, this solidification of his status as an undefeatable Dark Lord, would be such a straightforward and anticlimactic passing.
With a flick of his wrist, the nursery door burst open and shattered to wooden pieces, revealing the cowering form of the mudblood. The look of absolute terror in her watery green eyes was tantalizing, and he gave a slow smile, reveling in her despair. The mudblood dropped the bundle in her arms into the crib behind her and threw her arms wide, as if this would help, as if in shielding him from sight she hoped to be chosen instead…
She pleaded, cried, begged like the lowly filth she was. Spare the boy? As if. No threat so clearly marked by Fate herself in the prophecy could be left unattended, child or no. And as for the mudblood, she needn't have died, but her crying and stubborn shielding of the boy was incredibly irksome. So, Voldemort gave an annoyed slash of his wand and her pathetic form crumpled, dead before her body fell to the ground.
The boy stood at his crib, silently watching the proceedings with a hint of interest in his bright green eyes. Voldemort felt a flicker of surprise as he saw the boy tilt his head to the side in curiosity instead of fear. Surely his hideous, crimson-eyed visage would frighten the boy.
However, the boy still remained silent. His uncannily intense gaze spoke of cold intellect, and for a fleeting moment, Lord Voldemort almost hesitated. It was but a quick instant, though, and he quickly shook himself out of his deliberations.
With growing resolve, Voldemort tightly gripped his faithful yew-and-phoenix wand and pointed it directly at the unmoving boy's forehead. Those startlingly green eyes didn't even blink at Voldemort's deliberate movement, and the boy's unresponsiveness only further infuriated Voldemort. With an inhumane scream, he thrust the wand forward and a jet of green light sliced through the air.
In that instant, several things happened.
A dark specter had been observing the event from above, fading in and out of the living plane. The tattered-robed, indistinct figure felt a thrill of excitement upon seeing the two players that Fate had been cautious about. He truly detested Fate at times, as she often prevented him from having his fun.
But, directly in front of him was a man who had sought to escape Death, and a boy who had an unclear destiny. Both of these mortals were special in their defiance and subversion of Fate, and he loved it. He would take great delight in personally reaping their souls. It was an honor to have Death take your soul, as he usually delegated such trivial matters to his subservients.
Thus, when the boy's lifeless form sank to the mattress, Death gleefully reached forth and snatched the child's glowing soul, which had been forcefully ripped from his infant body.
Suddenly, Death noticed something completely unexpected by him and Fate. The boy's soul shone fiercely bright, pulsating, furling and unfurling from its tightly coiled spherical, hazy shape. Never had he felt such a strong magical power and determination as he did from the brilliantly glowing soul that rested in his skeletal hands. And upon closer inspection, he found a sliver of inky midnight, void-like darkness trapped within the soul. Death almost cackled aloud.
Lord Voldemort, seeker of immortality, had unintentionally trapped a portion of his tormented soul in a vessel that shone brighter than the sun.
Oh, this was too wonderful to not interfere. Mentally muttering an apology to Fate, he compressed the soul into its original orb and gently placed it back inside the child's body. Voldemort, who had been laughing in an insane manner as he turned away from the sight, thankfully did not see Death resurrect the boy.
To ensure that Voldemort would not know, he shot the Deathlike equivalent of the Avada Kedavra at the man without a second glance. Voldemort didn't even have the time to comprehend what had happened when his body disintegrated, forcing the shredded remains of his mangled soul to rush out of the room with an anguished cry.
Death considered taking the boy away with him when another thought struck him. There had been another mortal he had been watching for some while, none other than the meddler and tempter of Fate, Albus Dumbledore. He had seen Dumbledore misinterpreting a shoddy prophecy and attempting to play god in the game of life. Dumbledore was an irritating, self-absorbed, self-righteous, oblivious fool, and Death would take great pleasure in taking his soul with the time came.
He would have to settle with confusing the annoying little man for now. Instead of taking the boy away, Death decided to give him a gift-- a grant of Death's Mentorship. With this gift, the extraordinarily intelligent Harry Potter would be properly guided by Death himself.
For now, Death would leave the quiet boy in his crib as if nothing had happened. The only remnants of Lord Voldemort's intrusion would be the bodies of the boy's parents in the wrecked house, and the single, jagged scar at the boy's forehead. Death quickly implanted a some thoughts and compulsions into a few people's heads so that instead of Hagrid retrieving the boy, it would be Dumbledore.
Watching in eager anticipation, Death was practically bouncing in midair when Dumbledore apparated inside the Potter residence. Dumbledore stared at the corpses of Lily and James Potter with a mixture of horror, regret, and guilt. And just as Death expected, Dumbledore's sadness seemed to vanish sight of the alive, sleeping boy with the scar on his head. There was the slightest gleam of victory in the old man's ice-blue eyes.
With growing amusement, Death was pleased to see that his plan had worked just as planned. He could practically hear the irksome fool's mind whirring, undoubtedly concluding that the young Potter was now the Boy-Who-Lived, the Savior of the Wizarding World, the Chosen One that the prophecy had referred to.
If only he knew what had truly occurred.
Death allowed Dumbledore to take Harry to his aunt and uncle's house. He felt a twinge of indignation when Dumbledore merely dropped Harry at the Dursleys' doorstep with only a paltry note explaining the bare minimum of the situation. The nerve of the man! Harry Potter was chosen by Death himself, receiver of Death's Mentorship, and this man negligently washed his hands of the boy at the house of a family who would hate Harry.
This was unacceptable. While Death wouldn't be allowed to interfere much more, such as by preventing Harry's aunt and uncle from abusing him, he could at least keep a close eye on the boy and talk to him through their mental connection when things grew difficult.
Fate, such a fickle thing
In Death, my soul shall forever sing
Harry continued to be a quiet child. No matter how brutal the emotional and mental abuse, he endured it all unflinchingly. Death was at least allowed to stop the horrid mortals from physically harming the boy, but all the same, he found himself concerned for the boy, and he realized with shock that it was the first time he had ever taken such interest in any mortal.
When Harry was three, Dumbledore visited again. Dumbledore had been satisfied to find that Harry was not being pampered. It would not to do to have a headstrong, self-assured Boy-Who-Lived entering Hogwarts when he was eleven. Albus needed him to be a good boy, an unassuming and obedient child who would seek Albus's approval.
The obvious abuse was saddening, but he decided that he would wipe the memories and records of concerned neighbors and child services. He hurt for the poor boy, but he knew this would be for the greater good. Dumbledore had undergone so much to stop Dark wizards, and it was only fair that he would pass the responsibility to the next generation.
Harry would save so many people from the unredeemable Lord Voldemort, and so Dumbledore would do whatever it took and turn a blind eye however many times necessary to guarantee that the Wizarding World would be safe. It was only right, and Harry would understand when he was older.
With that thought, he swept out of the house, deciding that this would be enough. He no longer needed to check on the boy, and would leave Harry alone. He couldn't have Harry finding out about the magical world from a young age.
Death watched Dumbledore disapparate away with a look of disgust directed towards the old man. He looked back at Harry, who was walking and talking with intelligence and maturity beyond his age. Now would be a good time to tell Harry about Death's plans for him.
'Are you going to speak to me now?' Harry wondered through the mental link that he shared with Death.
'You can see me?' Death asked, slightly surprised. He hadn't known that Harry could see him all this time. Maybe it was an unintended consequence of the gift of Mentorship.
'Yes. You watch me a lot. Are you my guardian angel?' Tilting his head, Harry looked at Death with a mix of innocence and wariness.
'Unfortunately not. I'm Death, Harry.' Stated Death calmly.
Harry nodded, completely unperturbed by the fact that an immortal being had presented himself. 'I thought as much. Your getup gives it away.' He nodded sagely.
Death would have smiled, had he possessed a face. 'You're the only one who can see me, so it's not too much of a drawback.'
'Why can I see you?' Harry inquired.
'I gave you a Gift of Death. Listen closely to me Harry, because this is important.' Here Death paused, checking that Harry was listening attentively. He was.
'Harry, there is a world of magic hidden amongst the world of muggles, or non-magical people. You belong to that world; you're a wizard, and an enormously powerful one at that too. When you were born, a woman made a prophecy, or a prediction, that you would be the one to vanquish a Dark Lord. This Lord was a powerful and intriguing man by the name of Lord Voldemort. He was once one of my favorite mortals, but he went mad.'
'He went mad?' Harry repeated curiously.
'Indeed, but that is a story for later. In the end, Voldemort decided to kill you, and he succeeded in doing so. You died that night, on October 31, 1981. I was present to reap your soul personally, as you and Voldemort are such interesting people. But, I noticed something fascinating about your soul, so I decided to bring you back.'
'I was dead, but you made me alive again.' Harry summarized seriously.
'Absolutely correct. And Here's where the Gift of Death plays in. I gave you Death's Mentorship, which means that you are special among mortals. You have the ability to talk directly to me and ask me questions, though whether I will answer or not is something I will decide.'
Harry had been listening without interruption, looking thoughtful as he took in all the information. 'Does anyone else know what happened?'
Death shook his head. 'No, only us two do. No one --not Voldemort, not Dumbledore, not the rest of the Wizard World-- knows what happened.'
'Who's Dumbledore?' Harry said inquisitively.
'Albus Dumbledore is a powerful mortal and the head of Hogwarts, which is a magical school. He is the one who witnessed the full of the prophecy that said you and the Dark Lord would only die at each other's hands, and he is an annoying man. He's been interfering for so long, so I took great delight in deceiving him with your supposed 'victory'.' Death replied, his displeasure with Dumbledore evident.
At this, Harry gave one of his rare laughs. 'So he thinks I killed the Dark Lord?'
'Almost, but not quite. Everyone in the wizarding world thinks you did, but Dumbledore correctly suspects that Voldemort is not dead. He does, however, believe that you are the Chosen One referred to by the questionable prophecy.'
'Questionable?' Harry repeated.
'I am Death, Harry, and I don't particularly like it when Fate decides to set things in stone with things such as prophecies. Thankfully, prophecies sometimes aren't absolute. The one stating that 'neither can live while the other survives' has been misinterpreted to say that you and Voldemort can only fall at the other's hands. The prophecy couldn't be further from the truth. You, my dear child, no longer have a predetermined future, and the prophecy is null and void. You and Voldemort alike are now unknown variables.'
Despite this being a major revelation, Harry looked mostly unsurprised. 'Oh. Will I be stuck with the Dursleys forever?'
'No, thankfully not. The Dursleys will soon leave you at an orphanage; that much I know. The orphanage will lead to new opportunities for you, but I cannot see what those opportunities are.' Death replied crypitcally.
'That's good.' Harry nodded, his face adorably solemn. 'What about Dumbledore? Will he do anything to me?'
'Not anymore, he can't.' Death said with hint of satisfaction. Death had cursed all magical and nonmagical tracking devices so that they would automatically malfunction when tasked with finding Harry. Now, Dumbledore would no longer be able to locate Harry, thus foiling the old wizard's plans.
Harry was silent over their mental connection before finally speaking. 'Thank you, Death.' He said quietly, his young voice expressing his sincere gratitude.
'Of course, Harry. Anything for my mortal youngling.'
Hi there! If you'd like, please do leave kudos/comments. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2: A/N
I want to start off by thanking everyone who's shown love for this fic. You truly mean the world to me-- I've read and reread your comments countless times with a smile on my face.
His Deathly Beautiful Winter is not a fic I am proud of. I wrote 110,000 words for this back when I first began to do creative writing again, and my inexperience really shows.
I have also received some comments that point out flaws my writing style, descriptions, and tropes. Although I've been adamant about my stance against unsolicited concrit in the past (particularly when it's a comment that consists of solely concrit), these people weren't exactly wrong.
I told myself that I wouldn't mention concrit, but in the end, I decided to because these comments were 40% of the reason why I'm making this A/N. I had been insecure about certain points, and the concrit pointed out exactly what those weak spots were. On principle, though, here's a post that explains why unsolicited concrit is generally very disheartening and should not be given. But the point of this notice isn't to call out concrit. Their objections were valid, and they merely reinforced my existing doubts.
I just... I just hate the thought of disappointing my readers. It makes me feel awful because I honestly want to show my best work, and evidently this fic isn't it.
After thinking about this for a few months, I've decided to put this on hiatus while I rewrite and revamp the fic. I will be leaving this up on ao3, and when I do finish revamping it, I'll replace the existing chapters with edited ones so that subscribers/bookmarkers don't lose their place.
As a side note: up until an hour ago, I was legitimately going to delete the entire fic and never look at it again. But, I reread all the comments and seeing your kind words reminded me that it would be equally wrong to just abandon the fic without further thought.
I don't know, I'm honestly just a trainwreck at this point. But! I'll push onwards because hhhhh I know I can do better.
So... see you sometime in the future? I love you all so much, and I promise the new version will be much more representative of what I'm capable of.