On a Pale Broomstick

New Guy on the Job

On a Pale Broomstick

Chapter 2

New Guy on the Job

Purgatory

REALLY Unplottable Location

It was a week into his new job, and Harry was beginning to settle in well. He had found another magical item in Thanatos's cloak, a clip-on style ear ring, which translated the languages spoken around him, both incoming and outgoing. He hesitated putting it on at first, I mean really, a single earring...That was just so...gay! He quickly realized though, that no one other than people he had business with even saw what he looked like, and those people only saw the aspect of his office.

Harry had been taken by Mortis to a grand mansion that looked for all the world like a funeral home. He had pushed a button on Mortis that was shaped like a horse's head, causing a transformation in the broomstick into a beautiful pale steed. Harry took the tack off the animal and let him go graze on the lush grass around the mansion, then headed inside. A butler met him at the door.

"Welcome back, sir", the man said as he took his cloak.

"You do know that I'm not the same guy who held this office prior to today, don't you?"

"Yes sir, we serve the office, not the man. Can I get you anything?"

"Do you have any cold butterbeer?"

"I believe so, although it has been quite a while since a wizard held this particular office. " A few minutes later, as Harry was sitting back into a nice leather recliner and turning on the television, the butler came back with a freezing cold butterbeer and some biscuits on a tray.

The telly was playing a newscast, a non memorable brunette woman sitting in the anchor chair. "In other news, the office of Death was transferred in the usual manner today. Viewers may remember that the previous officeholder, working in close association with other Incarnations, foiled several plots by the Unnamed One over the years. Our cameras were at Heaven when the previous Thanatos arrived to be greeted by his longtime consort, Luna Kaftan, who died of cancer after fighting the schemes of Hell for several years." The scene showed a youthful looking man being embraced by a beautiful blond haired woman, with a host of people cheering in the background.

This really was personalized news! The anchor continued, "We went to Hell to get their reaction, however they refused to comment." The camera shot showed a group of demons sneering and making rude gestures while several damned souls were giving discrete 'thumbs up' signs.

"In Thanato's many years in office, he only failed in collecting one soul, a wizard named Tom Riddle, the self styled Lord Voldemort, then only because that wizard had taken the extraordinary measure of splitting his soul in several parts and hiding the pieces to anchor himself to the earthly plane. In an ironic twist, one Harry Potter, a teenager who, at one year old, caused Riddle to be cast from his body for thirteen years, and who's blood was used to give Riddle a new body, is the very person who has assumed the office of Thanatos. You may remember that Potter was prophesied to be the one to finally defeat Riddle. We asked the three aspects of Fate what this meant for the prophesy. Two of the aspects refused to comment, and the third was nursing a bruised jaw. We did hear her mumble something about, "Bloody angsty teenagers".

"I don't care what they say," mused Harry, "It felt damned good."

"As it should. Do you have any idea how many times I would have liked to have knocked that nosy old bitty on her ass?" Harry looked up in shock at the telly. There was a handsome blond haired man on the telly smirking at him. The man brought up his fist in an uppercut motion. "To the moon, Alice!"

"What the...."

The man gave a wide smile. "How rude of me, I should have introduced myself. My name is Parry, and I just want to congratulate you on your new office."

"Congratulate? I think its bloody awful! I had to kill my predecessor to assume the office. Now I am going to have to spend however long I have in office killing people. I have the souls of my only relatives in a bloody sack with no idea what I should do with them!"

"Whoa there cowboy, one step at a time. Sure, you killed your predecessor, but it beats the alternative. Had you not, it would be you they were burying instead of Zane. I'm really surprised that he came for you in the first place; you should have been an automatic entry into Heaven. Thanatos is only supposed to collect souls in balance. Out of balance souls, either good or evil, should go to their destinations without help."

"Would the fact that I was committing suicide make a difference?"

"That would do it. In your culture, suicide is considered self murder, a heinous sin. Add to that the unwitting part you played in your godfather's death, and that would be enough to send you into a balanced state. Now, as far as the three souls in your bag, I would say that at least two of them, and possibly all three will end up with me."

"With you? That would mean that you are..."

"That's correct." Harry suddenly saw a small set of horns come out of Parry's head, and his complexion reddened."

"You're the bloody Devil! Satan!"

"Don't get so fired up, as it were. I'm just a guy doing a job, same as you. We even work with many of the same people. Anyway, if you will calm down, I'll show you what you need to do with those souls. I have been around for several centuries and have known many of your predecessors. See that large cabinet against the wall?"

As Harry pointed to the cabinet in question, Parry nodded. "That is your supply cabinet. You have one here and one in the main office. You should also have some spare equipment in Mortis' glove box. Now Zane had a pair of jewels that measured sin and goodness, but recently the Purgatory Labs came out with an electronic balance scale. Check your bag, it looks like a dope scale, not that you would recognize one of those."

"I believe I would, my cousin used them frequently."

"Ah, a pusher on top of everything else?"

"No, he just didn't want to get ripped off by his herb being light. Ah, here it is." Harry pulled the scale out of his bag along with one of the souls.

"All right now. First you need to zero the scale. That is done by pushing the blue button and holding it until the readout has four zeros on it. Got it? Good, now, place the soul on the scale."

Harry did so, and the readout read:

VERNON DURSLEY

-776

"You should have never been called for this one. I'm guessing that you took either his or your aunt's soul first." At Harry's nod, he continued. "That explains it. When you assumed office, no souls could leave naturally until you took the client you were assigned, probably your cousin. Had you taken his first, the others would have left by your ambient will."

"So what do I do with it?"

"With an evil level that deep, you can just drop it and it will make its way to me, but if you want see his face when he realizes just how much trouble he is in, you can deliver him personally. Being an Incarnation, with a balanced soul, one foot in heaven and one in hell, you can visit safely."

"Hmm, let me sort out the others while I think about it." Harry took the next soul and placed it on the scale. It read:

PETUNIA DURSLEY

-1095

"Oh my, she was a naughty girl." Satan looked at a computer screen off to the side and punched in some data. "Here we are, Petunia Dursley, nee Evans. Slander, jealousy, betrayal, lying, theft, child abuse, neglect... She makes her husband look like a saint. He was just mean and stupid, she planned all of this. If you want to slam dunk her, be my guest, but I think you will find it much more satisfying to deliver them personally and see their assignments."

"I'm still thinking about it."

Harry put his aunt's soul aside and pulled out Dudley's. He zeroed the scale again and placed the soul on the scale. It read:

DUDLEY DURSLEY

-25

"Looks like we have three for three. That last one was close, but..." Satan looked back at his monitor, "Ah, it looks like slipping that girl the GHB in her drink and sodomizing her while she was unconscious did the trick. If he hadn't done that, he would either be getting into heaven by the skin of his teeth or winding up serving as staff in Purgatory a few centuries until redemption. Don't worry, he'll have a long time here to adjust his attitude. Have you decided yet?"

"Did you say I could also visit Heaven?"

"Sure can, just have Mortis take you there in his horse form. Visiting the two planes is only possible while your soul is in balance. That's why Zane couldn't visit his consort, Luna Kaftan when she passed, his soul had gone out of balance by that time. Why do you ask?"

Harry got an evil grin on his face, and for a moment Parry thought Harry might have assumed the wrong office. He quickly thought better of it when he heard Harry's explanation. "I'm going to take her right to the gates and have my mum meet us there. Petunia can see just what she is going to be missing, and my mum can give her a piece of her mind. I'll let her see my true face, then pack her back up and drop her off to you."

Parry winced, "Hey kid, if you go looking for a different gig, just remember that I'm perfectly happy where I am at. By the way, for your normal clients, once you weigh them, you will see a bunch of rolls of tape in your box along with weights and balloons. Those on the minus side, tape them to a rock and let it go, the plus side souls, hook them to a balloon and cut them loose. Pretty much low tech, but it works. On a different subject, if you have a minute, I was wondering if I could speak with you about a bit of unfinished business?"

"Unfinished business?"

"Yes, Tom Riddle."

"Not my problem anymore. My predecessor should have taken care of him, but Fate is just going to have to figure out some other sucker to throw in front of him. When that happens, I shouldn't even see him; ambient will should deliver him to you. Besides that, why should I help you? The newscaster was telling about how my predecessor and his consort foiled a lot of your plans. The last thing I want to do is end up in Hell when my job here is done."

"Harry... may I call you Harry?" At Harry's nod, Parry continued. "Enlightened self interest. Barring what I could do for you, and might I say that could be quite a bit, there is the little problem of what Riddle will do to the people you love who you left behind. You know they will be in his sights. Just because you are 'dead'," Satan made the little quotation marks with his fingers, "That doesn't mean he is going to give them a pass. There is also the matter of revenge. He cost you your parents, godfather, and at least one friend."

"Uh huh, and just what is your interest in him? You will end up with him sooner or later; why are you so eager to have me hurry up the process?"

"Once again, enlightened self interest. Let me tell you a little story. You know how your office is transferred, do you have any idea how mine is?" At Harry's head shake, Satan continued. "I can be attacked, or give the office up myself. I attacked the previous holder, Lucifer, to save my demoness lover Lileth. I was one of the few wizards, although I was called a sorcerer then, to hold this office. My wife and I were attacked by Christian witch hunters and she was killed. I was a multiple animagus, and escaped in my bird form. Vowing revenge, I decided to hide in plain sight, and so joined a Franciscan monastery. I then heard of a new order, the Dominicans, formed to root out heresy, so I joined them in order to destroy them from within. I became a feared Inquisitor, but when I broke my vow of celibacy, Lucifer sent Lileth to corrupt me. However, because of my love for Lileth, I corrupted the Inquisition itself. Lucifer attacked Lileth in retaliation, and I attacked him, but it mortally wounded me. Lileth convinced me to claim Lucifer's office before the office would seek out the most evil person available. I did so, and have held the office since that time, although I lost it for a short time when I married Gaia and sang a hymn at our wedding. I was thrown out of office to become a damned soul, and the office went to a truly evil person, a child rapist and murderer. I defeated him and reclaimed the office."

"Yes Harry, I am evil, but I am also fair. I am also pragmatic, I don't do things just for evil's sake. I have reached an understanding with the other Incarnations, I just want fewer mistakes made; evildoers belong with me, good people should go to Heaven. There have been mistakes made in the past, I don't want any in the future. Tom Riddle is a threat for two reasons. He is evil enough that he could actually replace me, and even if he doesn't, he could bring about the end of the world as we know it. If he continues on the path he is walking, the wizarding world will once again be exposed to the mundane. Should that happen, there will be a nuclear war that will destroy everything. Then you, God, and myself would be swamped. Mistakes will be made, evildoers will be in Heaven and good souls will end up in Hell. It's just the nature of the game."

"Something tells me that isn't the only thing," Harry said. "Also, how do I know you're not lying?"

"You are right to be suspicious; I am the Father of Lies after all. Don't believe me though, ask the other Incarnations. And one thing you should remember, you are not killing anyone; they are already dead, your job is to collect their souls and sort them. Even Tom Riddle; when his killing curse rebounded back when you were a toddler, it separated his soul from his body. That is death, he just cheated his way into staying earthbound, and not even as a proper ghost."

"I never thought I would be thanking Satan, but it does make it a bit easier to bear, knowing that I am not the reason they are dying. So Parry, Thank you."

Parry smiled. "It's just giving the Devil his due."

"Oh, now that was cheesy!"

-----o0O0o-----

The next week sped by in a blur for Harry. Being an Incarnation, he did not really suffer from hunger or thirst, but he did get fatigued. Death certainly had a busy schedule! He did plan to take a small bit of time to personally deliver his relatives to Hell, after of course, fulfilling his intention to let Lily Potter take her shots at Petunia. That was a meeting that he could have used as a patronus memory!

Harry had notified Heaven of his intention to visit from his office in Purgatory. Using the Purgatory computer, he sent a message to the Gatekeeper asking that James, Lily, Cedric and Sirius be there so he could see them before his probationary period was finished and his soul went out of balance, something which would preclude him from visiting. He then left the building, mounted Mortis, and told him to head to Heaven. An instant later, he was there.

Since Harry's relatives were damned souls, he was not allowed to actually bring them inside the gates, however he pulled Petunia from the pouch and set her on the ground, where she became corporeal. Petunia saw the gates of Heaven, with her parents and Lily on the other side, and with a self satisfied smirk, attempted to enter. Before she could touch the gate, she was thrown back about ten feet, her hand smoking with the smell of brimstone.

"Why can't I go in? Mum, Daddy, tell them to let me in!" Grandpa Evans shook his head sadly.

"Petunia, you were given a great opportunity to become one of the saints here, but you threw it away with your jealousy and bitterness. You took an innocent child and made his life a living hell. Mother and I watched and cried while you abused and neglected little Harry while at the same time ruining Dudley by never setting limits and giving the discipline that love requires. Your spoiling of Dudley is the reason that your own child is going to Hell."

Lily stepped up next to her father. "Petunia, can you honestly say that your treatment of my son was in any way good? Also ask yourself, had the circumstances been different, if you were the one who died, how do you think Dudley would have been treated by James and me? Petunia, I loved you, and still love you, but you chose your own eternity; there is no place here for you." As Petunia broke down, weeping bitterly, Harry touched her with his scythe, making her non-corporeal and gently placing her inside his pouch. He then placed the pouch on Mortis and walked inside the gates to finally receive the hugs, kisses and love he had been starved for these last 14 years.

As he looked around at his loved ones, he noticed someone missing. ""Mum, Dad, where's Sirius?"

James looked puzzled. "Padfoot? I didn't know he was dead. When did he die?"

"He fell through the Veil of Death in the Department of Mysteries a few weeks ago. He was dueling Bellatrix Lestrange and she caught him with a spell that threw him back through the Veil."

Lily paled. "Son, I used to work for the DoM as an Unspeakable. The Veil is older than the Ministry and any recorded history. We never figured out what it was other than some sort of one way portal. To where, we could only speculate, but you might try investigating it at your office in Purgatory. Sirius could be in another dimension, or he could have gone back into time... we just don't know."

"And the Ministry thought it would be a good idea to shove the worst of the worst criminals through this thing, not knowing where they would end up? Gad, out of sight, out of mind? As far as going through time, I suppose I could ask Chronos; it would be a good way to meet him."

Lily took his arm. "Harry, how are you holding up?"

Harry started to give his normal response of 'I'm fine', but looking in his mother's eyes, the words died in his throat. "I'm overwhelmed, Mum. I have to shut down my emotions because of all the pain I see every day. Traffic accidents, abused kids, old people in nursing homes who have been forgotten and left to rot. Even today; I thought that bringing Petunia here would be cathartic, and in a way it was, but all I feel for her now is pity. She is going to spend eternity in Hell, and I will be delivering her."

"Harry," Grandpa Evans said, "Petunia made her own choices, she delivered herself to Hell. Had you taken Dudley, your real client, first, you would not have had to deal with Petunia or Vernon at all. In many of your cases, you are helping people, relieving them of their pain and suffering. When I found out that you were in this office, I spoke to Zane, your predecessor. Your Grandmum and I were in a traffic accident. She passed first, there was never any doubt where she was going, but I lived a pretty rough life when I was younger, so I was close to balance. Zane came for me; I was trapped under the car in terrible pain. He was kind and gentle, and he relieved my suffering. I will always be grateful for what he did for me. You son, can be the same sort of Thanatos that Zane was, a kind ender of suffering, someone who will make their last moments on Earth something not to be dreaded, but welcomed. When it does not cause pain, speak with your clients; many of them will be waiting for you with open arms. One of the men here told me how Zane arranged it so he could hear his favorite hymn before he died. He brought in a grunge rock band and a singer from a black Pentecostal church to play and sing. The nursing home this man was in was a disgrace, urine soaked clothes and people tied into wheelchairs so the staff wouldn't have to bother with them. Zane faced down the staff when they told him that music was not allowed in the building. With the police ringing the building, those drug addled musicians began to play that sacred song, the singer from that gospel church sang, and Heaven itself provided the background chorus. The musicians turned their lives around, kicked their drug habits, the singer rededicated herself, and the police began an investigation that ended up shutting that hellhole of a nursing home down. All because Death listened and went out of his way to make a suffering man's passing easier."

Charlus and Dorea Potter came up and joined the conversation. "We were killed by Death Eaters in the first war, so you never had the opportunity to have either pair of grandparents or your parents as role models," Charlus said. "Frankly, with the way you were raised, I am amazed that you grew up to be such a fine young man. John is right, try to emulate your predecessor and you will bring honor to yourself, your family, and your office."

Dorea spoke up. "I spoke with Zane this morning before you arrived. He is such a nice young man. He told me to let you know that he left a set of diaries detailing his time in office at your mansion. You need to take the time to read them so you can be aware of some of the pitfalls and not make the mistakes he did when he first became Thanatos. Use Zane as a role model and you won't be sorry."

Harry wanted to stay longer, but his watch began blinking and buzzing, reminding him that he needed to get back to work; Time waits for no man, not even Death. He got a round of hugs from everyone, passed back through Heaven's gates, and, with a last wave, mounted Mortis and galloped toward Earth, heart much lighter and with a firm resolve.

-----o0O0o-----

Harry decided not to deliver the Dursleys to Hell personally, he no longer had the bitterness that revenge required. When he did his next sorting of souls, he simply boxed and taped them up, tied a rock to it and let the weight carry them to their final destination. He did search the mansion and found the diaries his grandmother told him about. He dedicated at least a half hour a day to reading them, marveling at some of the schemes that Zane was drawn into. He decided to meet the other Incarnations as soon as possible.

After three very busy weeks, Harry finally got some time to query the Purgatory computer about Sirius. He logged in and a smiley face came up on the monitor.

HOW MAY I HELP YOU TODAY, THANATOS?

"I would like the status of Sirius Orion Black," Harry said. The computer did not require actually keying in data, it was voice interactive.

BLACK, SIRIUS ORION: 72 PERCENT GOOD, 28 PERCENT EVIL. EXTRA CREDIT ALLOWED FOR UNEARNED SUFFERING. SCHEDULED FOR UNASSISTED ENTRANCE TO HEAVEN ON MAY 10, 2000. CURRENT STATUS: MISPLACED.

"Misplaced! How on Earth can he be misplaced?!"

SIRIUS BLACK IS NOT ON EARTH, THEREFORE HE IS MISPLACED.

"In that case, where is he?" This machine seemed to be deliberately obtuse. The smiley face blinked.

UNABLE TO PROCESS. CERTAIN RESPONSES CAN ATTRACT UNWANTED ATTENTION. IT IS BETTER TO STATE WHERE HE IS NOT.

"He fell through what is known as the Veil of Death in the British Ministry of Magic. Is that veil some sort of portal to another dimension?"

THANATOS, YOU HAVE READ TOO MANY SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS. THERE ARE NO PARALLEL DIMENSIONS.

"Okay, is the veil some sort of portal through time?"

THAT WOULD BE CHRONO'S REALM, BUT NO, THE PORTAL DOES NOT SHIFT TIME.

"Does the portal send you to a different planet?"

The smiley face began to silently laugh. NO, BUT THAT IS A RATHER UNIQUE IDEA. THE MORTALS CAN SEARCH ALL THEY WANT, BUT THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE THAT WOULD SUPPORT LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. ONCE AGAIN THANATOS, YOU HAVE BEEN READING TOO MUCH SCIENCE FICTION.

"Well excuse me, but I am just fifteen years old, you know. I've only known I was even magical for less than five years. So that cuts down my options quite a bit. There is Earth, Purgatory, Heaven and..

DO NOT SAY THE NAME THANATOS! UNWANTED ATTENTION, REMEMBER!?

Ahh! So the computer was scared of Satan! He remembered reading about Zane's adventure with the Purgatory computer back in his early days. Harry would take a page from Zane's book and ask obliquely.

"All right, I know he is not in Heaven, and he is not on Earth. Is he somewhere in Purgatory?"

THE PORTAL DOES NOT GO FROM EARTH TO PURGATORY.

"Thank you, you have been most.... unhelpful." The smiley face winked at him.

I'M HAPPY I COULD UNHELP. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED?

"Actually, yes. I have a list of people that I want to be notified when it is their time to die so I can personally escort them."

UNUSUAL, BUT NOT UNHEARD OF. TO SAVE YOUR TIME, GIVE THE LIST TO THE OFFICE ASSISTANT AND SHE CAN INPUT THEM. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THANATOS?

"No, that should be it."

VERY WELL, HAVE A NICE DAY AND COME AGAIN.

-----o0O0o-----

Harry left the Purgatory offices fuming. Sirius was in Hell and Parry had not mentioned it! Harry wondered why Sirius was scheduled to die in four years, but the unfairness of it all infuriated him. There was a certain evil Incarnation with whom he was about to have words!

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