Harry Potter walked to his death with a grace that no one expected of a 17 year-old boy. The Boy Who Lived approached the end of his life with an iron will, a steely determination, head held high and very, very afraid, though he never let it show even once.
Because he was more afraid of being stopped.
“What a brave child,” Magic had murmured when the green light hit him and he didn’t even flinch.
“What a poor, miserable idiot,” Death grumbled.
Harry Potter died for a cause, some would say. Harry Potter died for his friends, others would argue. Harry Potter died because only he could stop the Dark Lord, the cowards would tell themselves to excuse all the times they sat by and did nothing.
He died to meet his Fate.
Harry Potter died for no good fucking reason, both Death and Magic complained, seeing as the bets they’d placed had him making it at least several decades longer.
“Unbelievable!” Death mourned, throwing themself over the arm of a lounge chair in Fate’s parlor room. “The hallows were absolutely wasted on him! He gets all three and what does he do? Drops the damned resurrection stone in a fucking forest! No respect!”
“At least he didn’t put a chopped up bit of his soul in it,” Magic tried to soothe.
“Don’t even get me started on that cheating bastard,” Death snapped. “Tom Riddle’s soul would give a dementor indigestion.” Death heaved a morose sigh. “Potter was so close, too.”
“Don’t be sour,” Fate said smugly, sipping tea as they obnoxiously counted their winnings—a heap of new seers from Magic and a single “Get Out of Death Free” card to be used for one of Fate’s favorites. “Besides, people are dying. I’m starting to think you’re getting more out of this than I am.”
Fate rolled their eyes. “Now really. Usually you’re so pleased to snap up anyone who so much as touched one of your little trinkets, let alone mastered all three.”
“You know damned well he was tricked into it, you sneaky fuck.” Death jabbed a finger in Fate’s direction. “You broke the no-tampering clause with that horse shit prophecy of yours.”
“Me?” Fate had the audacity to look confused—or rather, to fake it; that smug little quirk at the corner of their mouth wasn’t fooling anyone. “But that was all Sybil!”
“Yes,” Magic drawled, unimpressed. “The woman who hadn’t shown a genuine whiff of the sight in her entire life, who had the magical strength of a jellybean. How coincidental, too, that she should tell Albus Dumbledore the single most important prophecy of this century over tea at an impromptu job interview.”
“Well that’s hardly my fault—”
“So coincidental, one might even call it fate,” Death sneered.
Fate crossed their arms. “If you are implying I cheated—”
“We don’t have to imply. We know.” Magic snorted. “You may be able to fool your humans, but if you think we cannot tell when you have dipped your fingers in too many pies, you are only deluding yourself.”
“It is usually a mess when you get too involved,” Death agreed.
“Sybil Trelawney, I swear,” Magic muttered. They scoffed. “Gilderoy Lockhart has more magical talent than her.” They paused. “Not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d be able to truthfully say about that man.”
Fate sniffed. “Sybil’s prophecy worked just as it was meant to—”
“I knew it!”
“Not much you can do about it now, though, is there.” Oh and Fate was far too confident.
Death’s responding grin was sharp, terrifying. It was the sort of thing that gave mortals the idea to be afraid.
“Actually, I was thinking we’d make it best two out of three. To be fair.”
Magic grinned, Fate was quietly panicking, and Death was finally starting to think that perhaps they could uncluster this whole fuck up.
“Well,” Fate said slowly, no doubt thinking up a reason this couldn’t be allowed. “The boy will have to agree to it.”
“He didn’t agree the first time,” Magic said.
“Well he wasn’t dead the first time,” Fate reasoned, huffing. “It’s different.”
Death, who knew damn well that it mattered very little at all as long as they were involved, raised a brow. “Is it now? I hadn’t realized you were such an expert on the rights of the dead.”
Something unpleasant was happening on Fate’s face. It was beautiful.
“Fine. He doesn’t have to agree specifically. He just has to agree to live,” they finally conceded.
Magic rolled their eyes. “Any other ridiculous conditions?”
“He mustn’t remember his previous life. The…circumstances have to remain the same,” Fate said, taking great pleasure out of the pinched looks on their companions’ faces. “For the sake of fairness.”
“Fine,” Death agreed so surely that Magic knew they must have a loophole around that rule. “But no more fucking prophecies, Fate. You’ve done quite enough.”
“Only if you promise not to unduly protect the boy from dying,” Fate returned. “That would defeat the purpose.”
Death shrugged. “Obviously. Unless, of course, he collects all three hallows again and keeps them. Then I’m bound by a previous oath.”
Fate looked none too happy about it but didn’t dare disagree. “And Magic. You’re not to—I don’t know—take away his opponents’ magic.”
That leaves quite a bit of wiggle room, Magic thought happily, even while keeping their expression one of utter boredom. “Perfectly reasonable. Are we contented?”
Fate’s face was still rather pinched. “And he keeps the horcrux. Like I said, conditions are to remain identical.”
Death rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe I’m putting all those gross things back in your antiques,” they said to Magic.
“Maybe he’ll figure out how to get them out of the founders’ items without bloody destroying precious magical artifacts this time,” Magic grumbled.
“No respect.” Death rolled their shoulders. “Well, I’ll go speak to the boy. See if I can’t convince him to live a little longer.”
“Why do you get to go?”
Death raised a brow at Fate, then pointed to himself. “Because I handle the dead people. It’s what I do. If you didn’t want me talking to him, maybe you shouldn’t have had him fucking led to his death!”
Without so much as another word, Death turned on the spot and disappeared.
After all, they had a train station to fabricate and an old man to imitate.