*** A thing to remember ***

Most of the stories told to you, are not told right

Often, in my travels of the suffocating ball you call a world; I hear stories told by mothers and fathers. Of course, being me, I don't get to stay around to hear all of them, too many souls to collect. So, usually, I don't pay attention, to the words I mean.

The colors, on the otherhand… but that isn't the problem. Over the many weary years I have heard bits and pieces of a story, slowly completing itself. It is, admittedly a very strange story but also so very familiar. I have to wonder if one of them told the story to someone, and it was passed down. This is one of those rare stories where I, death, am involved directly.

*** A Small Peeve of Mine ***

Most people insist on making me the villain.

I assure you, I am not.

When I first met the brothers, I was carrying the sodden, wet souls of those who had come earlier, from the river, you see. The colors that day had been black, like ink, and a sad bruised color, that leaked over everything and made the black so much more interesting than it was on its own. Right now I think of the story and sigh, for this part is wrong. I did not appear before them angry that they had escaped me when making their bridge of air and vines.

*** A Simple Truth ***

I was, honestly, congratulating them.

But I think they misunderstood

Oh, how humanity haunts me!

The first brother, when I appeared, tried to strike me down using his wand; as expected, I didn't die. Really, how does one go about dieing when one is death itself? Although he was a fool, all boastful reds and proud yellows, the man demanded something of me. The strongest wand in the entire history of the world, he said. Really, am I not busy enough? But, knowing he'd come to me soon enough, whether or not he had this wand, I gave it to him, seeing no harm in it. After all, what is a brute with a powerful weapon if he hasn't the time to use it?

The second brother was a self-proclaimed wise man; full of sly greens and self-righteous blues. He did not believe in me until he saw the gift his older brother received. Really, how does one not believe in me? I have been proven, I am fact. Maybe he wasn't so wise, after all. He thought he could outsmart me by asking for something normally impossible; a way to bring back those departed.

*** Something to Think About ***

Bringing back the dead is impossible. At least, for mortals.

That includes wizards, pure-bloods or not.

I gave him a stone, simple, yes, but shrouded in my aura. The souls he wanted to summon would not be able to resist the pull. But that is all they would ever remain; souls. I complied with his wishes, simply because the man himself was doomed. Only someone on the edge of sanity would ask for something like that. Give a mortal the thing he wishes for most, and he'll find it more a burden than a blessing.

The last, and youngest, brother was different from the other two. He, unlike them, had nothing to lose, and nothing he wanted to gain. They were fascinating, his colors. Somber silvers and humble browns. To be honest, I was most curious to see what he'd ask for, if he'd ask for anything. The man was smart, smarter than the presumptuous wise-man of a brother, at least. He was aware that he must not have very long, and indeed he didn't. So, he asked for one thing that was sure to extend his life. My cloak. At first, I was hesitant, giving a mortal something so…precious, is not wise, but his brothers goaded me into it, partly. Partly I am the one to blame, my pride, my fascination with this particular mortal, the brothers' goading, they all played a part in my final decision.

I gave the youngest brother my cloak of invisibility. The strange thing is, though it may not have been my best decision, it is not one of the ones I regret.

The wand and stone, however, are different stories entirely.

After receiving the gifts, the brothers departed. Both from each other, and from me. The oldest brother went to the nearest village, but not for what you might think. The man, to his benefit, did not know his enemy was at the village, wishing only to spend the night and move on. It was only at the pub did things take a turn for the worst. Both men were drunk, both were angry, both thought they were right. Both died for a false truth. A pity, really. I gathered the brother's fallen enemy, the poor man still not realizing he was gone. The young man still might have lived, but for that cursed pride of his. When carrying a powerful weapon, do not boast out loud you cheated death and won said weapon, it gives humans the wrong idea, apparently. A few moments after I delivered his enemy to what lies beyond, I was called back to deliver the brother. The wand was gone, the boastful brother's throat was slit. Really, a very foolish man indeed. I carried his soul kicking and screaming, ignoring the taunts and curses, I'm not sure whether or not I am good-looking, I've never bothered to ask, but I did find the remark about my strength rather annoying.

*** A Small Fact ***

You cannot carry a war's worth of souls, and neither could he.

The second brother went back home, and when the time came was far more willing when I collected his soul, but I can't help but wonder if he was not a greater fool than his brother. His story doesn't make me feel pity, but a faint sense of disgust; really, being a wise man he should have known better. It is strange he didn't. The man had tried to bring back the woman he loved. A noble effort, I suppose, but it doesn't change the fact she was gone. She tried to tell him, but he didn't listen, too overjoyed to have, supposedly, stolen her away from me. The only thing he stole her away from was well-deserved peace and well-earned happiness. When she faded back to the other side, as it was fated she must, he lost all will to live, and handed me his soul by way of rope and noose and despair. I was not happy to receive it, but then again, I've never approved of suicides. He came sobbing slightly, despair weighing him more than murder or guilt ever could. I did not pity him, and that has not changed to this day. He called me young, though I am far older than he. He called me pitiable, but it was he who ended his life, I have no life to end.

The third and final brother is one of those few humans who manage to find a way into my heart (if I have one, that is. I've never been entirely sure) and stay there, no matter how hard I try to cast them out. Liesel Meminger being one of those few as well. My dear ones, you see. They convince me humanity is worth it.

According to you humans, I looked for the final brother for many years, him hiding all the while. I assure you, this did not happen. I am far to busy to search for anyone, least of all one who wears my cloak though I did not seek him out, I would be lying if I said that I did not think about him from time to time, after all, he had my cloak and my interest. When the time came, he was sitting up, waiting for me. It was touching, really, when he called me friend and asked how I was. I replied in kind, and allowed him one small kindness.

*** What That Kindness Was ***

Not taking my cloak back, but allowing him to pass it on to his son

In a way, I suppose, he left the earth as my equal. At least he gave me words. At least he offered friendship. At least he gave me a story worth remembering, and now, I pass it to you. Use it well.