The air is heavy with his lack of response.
“You’re missing out, you know,” I answer his silence, “In all my years I never did
find anything that compared to the taste. Not a single sunset, nor a note of chamber music, not the scent of a crimson rose, nor the feel of star-filled ocean against bare skin – ”
“You realise that you could have mastered me?” Death interrupts. I tuck a self-satisfied smile into the corner of my mouth.
My answer is simple. “Yes.” Unconcerned, I unclothe the sweet I’d offered him. The wrapper crackles, almost loud enough to create jagged creases in the white air. I pop the sweet into my mouth.
“So… why did you not? You’ve handled all the Hallows – why did you not use them? Any other man would have.”
“You really think so? ‘Any other man’?
Then why are we here?”
I gesture to the blinding nothingness around us. Death looks around, unimpressed. To him, this is simply a destination, the dumping-ground for the cargo it’s his role to deliver. He doesn’t see it for what it is; the transitory stage, the Entrance Hall if you will, to… well now, that would be telling.
“To wait. Until the time I can do my job, and you yours.”
His indifferent words fall, heavy, to the ground at our feet. I imagine the dull clunk they’d make as they hit it, and wince.
“No, my friend, there you’re wrong. Harry is much more than another job.” He doesn’t understand; I hear it in his silence.
Instead, I switch tactics. “But what would you know of a human’s reasoning, in any case? You see only the results. You are
only the result. You don’t see or taste or smell or feel or hear, or even think, really, in the true senses of the terms. You can’t know about the trivial things, the butterfly’s wings that can cause the monsoon.”
Again, although he doesn’t move, I sense a sudden rigidity in his manner. “Yes… you’ve hit a nerve,” he acknowledges, and we both bathe in the accidental irony. “No matter how many millions of humans succumb to me, they always thwart me in the end. I’ve seen them obliterate lives casually, with the emerald flash of a wand and a couple of Latin words. I’ve heard their loved ones scream with grief, as they’re kneeling over the empty bodies. How can one not judge humanity based on that?”
His voice is as hollow as the wind, matter-of-fact. “But then, there’s the little girl standing in a field grinning in heady delight as she envisions herself conversing with a Crumple-Horned Snorkack. What am I supposed to think, Dumbledore? What am I supposed to do?”
My eyes meet those of my wristwatch and I haul myself to my feet, weighed down with pity for the wretched being beside me. I place a hand on Death’s shoulder.
“You’re supposed to do your job, my friend. It’s time; Harry’s ready.”