Chapter 5 : O Death
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He was proud that his father wanted him to be buried next to his grandparents, next to Remus and Tonks - Harry had thought Remus would have liked to be with his friends and, after a long talk, Andromeda had decided to bury her husband and daughter there, too, so she could visit them both - and next to Sirius' plaque. His body was with his namesakes, his family, even if the rest of him was unseen on earth.
James had been told by Teddy as a child that Harry had been there for Andromeda a lot when his parents had died, especially at the funeral, so he was not surprised to see her returning the gesture. They'd both lost a child; she knew the feeling.
The memory he knew he'd cherish forever was the look on his family's faces when Kate told the church he'd died saving her life, that he'd pushed her away. They'd never know about his deal.
"His father's son," they said.
"A hero," Kate's parents wept when they hugged his mum and dad.
And Hugo did look proud, if only a little. As soon as he'd heard, Hugo had figured out the real reason why James had wanted that book. He was still angry at James for making the deal, but the proud smile was enough. The deal hadn't been the cause of his death, the car had. Death had told him so.
James was sat on a gravestone, not too far from where he was being buried, when he felt her presence. She kept the pretense of being a girl, to ease him into this life, she'd said. She was Death, the original Grim Reaper, she was able to change at will. The others, the ones like James who had become bound to Death, could change where they met the dead, but they couldn't change their appearance. James would always be himself.
He was glad. It made this life easier, being a Reaper.
Death had spent the day explaining it, what he was and had to do. He'd made a deal, bound himself to Death, so he was a Reaper for all eternity; he had the lives of every living soul in his head, knew who was close to death, who was ready to die and who wasn't. He had to talk to them in a surrounding of his choice, give them the choice of moving on or becoming a ghost. And occasionally, he could make a deal. James didn't think he could ever put a person through what he went through. But his deal had been his choice and to take away another person's felt wrong, too.
Some Reapers stayed around hospitals, others in hospices and care homes (he'd seen two in St. Mungo's alone). Others chose to wander the earth, keeping their minds open for any accidents, murders or other unnatural deaths. James decided to stay in London; his family couldn't see him, but he felt more at peace staying close by. And he didn't want any other Reapers touching his family. That was not to happen.
Death sat by his side, saying nothing until he finally acknowledged her presence; he turned to face her briefly.
"Are you ready for this life?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Are any of us? It's hard, watching them say good-bye. Knowing I can't see them until it's their time to die. And even that will be brief."
That was something else James had had to get used to; Reapers were not only bound to Death, bound to this earth, stuck. They couldn't move on to wherever people went and though ghosts were bound, too, it was like they were on a different part of 'dead life' - they couldn't see Reapers. Spirits could, people stuck because of unfinished business, before they made the choice. Sometimes a Reaper would help, but they mostly left the spirits alone until it was time for them to choose. Spirits could also be alive, but comatose, like an outer body experience - he'd met a couple of spirits in the past week.
One was his Uncle Fred, who wasn't yet ready to leave his brother. That had been a shock, but at least James had someone to talk to. James promised to help him figure out what his unfinished business was exactly.
"Why didn't I become a spirit, with unfinished business?" James asked. "You'd think I would, being so young?"
"Because your death was an accident, tragic but inevitable," Death answered. "Most spirits are murder victims or, in Fred Weasley's case, they died in war. Their unfinished business is usually justice, sometimes revenge. Other times, they just want to make sure their family are okay before they go. I suspect that's true for Fred; he and George were very close, did everything together. He'll probably go when it's his brother's time."
"Oh. You didn't happen to see Remus Lupin and Tonks, did you?"
"I did. They wanted to make sure Teddy was cared for; they left when they knew he was safe."
James nodded, thankful to know that.
"Are you sure you want to stay here, James? It'll get lonely, only seeing Fred," Death said slowly. "They'll never see you, unless you're summoned, and you still have the book, so that's not likely."
James kept his mouth shut, not letting her know that he'd put a note on top of the book, as well as a charm to keep it locked once it had been shut, before he'd hidden it the night before he'd summoned her, saying that he'd found a cool history book and to give it to Hugo. His cousin now had the book and only his cousin knew what he was.
Hugo had figured out how to open it, as James had known he would, and had already called for him once, morbid curiosity making him want to know what it was like.
"Right," James said instead. "I'm sure I want to stay, they're my family. What can I call you? I don't know how I feel about 'Death'."
Death frowned, obviously she'd never been asked that question before. "Pick a name," she said.
James thought, his eyes on his family, who were starting to leave. His funeral was over; they were going to the wake.
"Gabrielle," he finally answered her.
"The female variation of Gabriel, interesting. Should I be honored to be named after an angel?"
"Yes. You're the Angel of Death, it seemed fitting," James smiled. "I was going to pick Lucy, after Lucifer, but that seemed a little harsh," he joked, getting up. He had a party to get to.
Then he felt it, an unfamiliar pull and a face to go with it; someone had passed away. He had to give them a choice.
"You've got work to do," Gabrielle said softly. "Good luck, Reaper."
Oh, Death. What have I gotten myself into.
James left. He had a soul to collect.
A/N: The last chapter is up and you know what James is, why Death's deal had been to have him way back in chapter one. I hope you like the outcome. I've wondered about a sequel, but have never been sure, but if you're interested in some Reaper!James, let me know. :)
Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)