"SORRY DOES NOT HELP, MISTER POTTER." A voice like cracking tombstones said, with mild irritation.
"I didn't know… I didn't think-"
Harry looked up at the tall, black-clad skeleton before him. He'd found this ritual in an old book in the Restricted Section, and when he saw what it could do…
He summoned Death.
"THIS IS MOST IRREGULAR… YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO COMPLETE THE RITUAL AT ALL."
"YOU ARE YOUNG. YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE THE POWER-" Death paused, then looked closer. "...AH. DESTINY. THAT WOULD DO IT."
"YOU APPEAR TO HAVE A GRAND DESTINY, MISTER POTTER. MY CONDOLENCES."
"Wait, you can just tell?"
"I AM EVERYWHERE, MISTER POTTER, AND EVERYWHEN AS WELL. IT'S WHY WIZARDS CALL ME UP IN THE FIRST PLACE. I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. CLASSIC CASE, THIS, THOUGH IT SEEMS YOU'VE BEEN PUSHED ALONG A BIT FORCEFULLY…"
"You could say that again…"
"...WELL, REGARDLESS, YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE RITUAL. SO I SUPPOSE YOU MAY ASK YOUR QUESTIONS." Death continued to peer at harry, the blue embers in his eyes weighing him…
"...Can you bring someone back?"
"NO. THE DEAD STAY THAT WAY. AND I RECOMMEND AGAINST TRYING TO CHEAT ME." Death intoned, seeming to grow taller in the dingy room, shadows gathering.
"NO. I AM MERELY THE REAPER. I COME AT THE TIME OF THE HARVEST. THAT IS ALL."
"...Who do I talk to then?"
"I WOULD RECOMMEND COUNSELLING."
Harry snorted. "...Fine. It was a long shot anyway… I'm sorry Sirius."
"Sirius. Sirius Black, my godfather."
"...JUST A MOMENT." Death reached into his robes and withdrew a hourglass. It bore SIRIUS ORION BLACK on the nameplate… and the sand was frozen, unmoving.
"SOMEONE," Death said with annoyance. "IS PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS."
"What… what does that mean?" Harry asked, not daring to hope and wondering at how the personification of mortality didn't seem at all put out by saying 'silly buggers'.
"SIRIUS ORION BLACK IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD." Death intoned, flicking the upper bulb experimentally. The sand remained unmoving.
"YOU SEEM QUITE FOND OF THAT WORD. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD LISTEN BETTER."
"I mean, does that mean he's alive?"
"HE IS NOT… AND HE IS. MOST VEXING."
"What, is he like a vampire?"
"HAH! NO, THE TIMERS SHOW THE TIME REMAINING, EVEN IF THAT TIME IS THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. THIS MEANS HE IS… STUCK."
"The Veil!" Harry gasped.
"In the Department of Mysteries! The Veil of Death, he fell through it during a battle!"
"THE VEIL OF…?" Death paused. "MAY I LOOK INTO YOUR MIND? IT WOULD MAKE THIS MUCH EASIER."
Harry flinched. "I… don't have good memories of people entering my mind-"
"I PROMISE I SHALL BE GENTLE. AND THIS IS FOR YOUR GODFATHER."
Death watched with amusement as the teen went from hesitant to almost demanding. "Go on then."
Death reached out a finger and laid it on Harry's brow. Immediately, Harry felt… serene. A little cold, but it was actually quite peaceful.
"MY, RATHER CLUTTERED IN HERE. VERY UNTIDY. YOU COULD CLEAN UP MORE, YOU KNOW, NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT HAVE GUESTS."
Harry agreed. It did seem quite messy.
"INDEED. PERHAPS… WAIT A MOMENT. WHAT…?" Death shuffled through the memories for a moment, before Harry felt him grasp at one, a memory of him fighting the Diary in the Chamber of Secrets.
"...OH BLOODY HELL." Death said, sounding exasperated.
"What- er, I mean, is there a problem?" Harry asked.
"THAT BOOK. IT WAS A MEMORY OF YOUR FOE, YES?"
"LOVELY." Death sighed. "THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE DAYS. LIKE WHEN THE DEATH OF RATS TOOK UP THE CONCERTINA."
Harry decided not to ask.
"AH, HERE WE ARE." Death peered into the memory of the fight around the Veil chamber.
"OH GODS, THAT BLOODY THING."
"Is… is that bad?"
"ANNOYING, CERTAINLY. COME ALONG."
Harry blinked, and suddenly they were back in the Veil chamber! "Bloody hell!"
"NOT QUITE. LET'S SEE…" Death reached into the Veil and started pulling out… things. Teacups. Sandwhiches. A few paper airplanes. "OH, IT'S A BIG SMOKY PORTAL THAT NOTHING COMES BACK FROM. WHAT DO WE DO? THROW THINGS IN, OF COURSE… AHA!"
And, with a quick tug, a stunned Sirius Black was suddenly on the floor, groaning.
"SIRIUS!" Harry cried, dashing over and kneeling beside the man.
"HE IS UNCONSCIOUS, BUT UNHARMED, AND… AH, YES, HE IS BACK ON THE CLOCK, AS IT WERE." Death pronounced, looking at the hourglass.
Harry straightened and stood, turning and bowing. "Thank you."
"IT IS MY DUTY, MISTER POTTER, NOTHING MORE. THOUGH I DO THANK YOU FOR POINTING OUT THIS ERROR. NOW I MUST BE GOING… BUT BEFORE I LEAVE-"
Death's hand snapped out and pinched against Harry's scar, drawing a scream or rage… from the scar, startling Harry.
'YOU DIDN'T THINK YOU WERE GETTING AWAY, DID YOU, MISTER RIDDLE?" he said in a voice that sounded as close to glee as a rolling boulder could get. "MISTER POTTER, BY MY COUNT, HE HAS AT LEAST FIVE MORE PIECES FLOATING ABOUT, INCLUDING HIMSELF. I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING THEM, SHOULD YOU FIND THE TIME." Death pocketed the squirming piece of soul.
"O-of course! I owe you-"
"YOU OWE ME NOTHING, MISTER POTTER, THIS WAS MERELY A BALANCING OF THE SCALES."
"Well… he still needs to be punished, right? And I reckon splitting your soul isn't something you should do in the first place."
"INDEED. ONE WONDERS WHAT HE WAS THINKING, HUMANS TEND TO BE ABSENT MINDED ENOUGH WITHOUT LITERALLY LEAVING THEIR SOULS ALL OVER THE PLACE. IT WOULD BE LIKE FORGETTING YOUR SPLEEN WITH YOUR CAR KEYS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. MADNESS, I TELL YOU."
"Still… I feel I should thank you somehow."
"YOUR THANKS IS UNNECESSARY." Death said, turning towards the arch the Veil was housed in. He paused a moment. "...IT IS APPRECIATED, HOWEVER. I WILL SEE YOU LATER, I AM SURE."
And with that, Death walked through the arch. A moment later, it flickered, shuddered, and collapsed.
Sirius' eyes flew open at the sound. "Wha- where- Harry?"
Harry nodded, tears streaming down his face. "Yes, it's me, Sirius."
"What… what happened?"
When the Unspeakables arrived to discover what was going on, they found a collapsed artifact and a man shouting at the top of his lungs;
"You summoned WHO!?"
I always loved Death from the Discworld series, and thought; what would he think of the Horcruxes?