1) The sound of wings.
Once a raven died--and this was long ago when Death was cold and distant--who had had six new hatchlings by a male who was not her mate. They starved.
When Death arrived, five were dead, and it seemed the last was near death, so she settled down to wait. A day passed, then two, and Death could not touch the raven nestling. It cawed weakly, and flapped its wings, and Death saw then, with immense clarity, that one day those wings would be dark and black as night; that one day the raven chick would soar in flight.
"Shall I take him?" asked her brother, who had appeared suddenly. Imagination called him, she remembered.
"He is not mine," she told him. "Do as you wish, brother. May he grow well."
Dream nodded. "His name is Lucien."
2) A day with Desire.
"Well, big sister," it says, smiling. "What a pleasure."
"Two lovers, leaping to their deaths. A mistress killing her married lover in a jealous rage. A brothel worker committing suicide when her favourite lover has spurned her. It seems to me, Desire," she says, as chill as winter, "That far too many recent deaths have had their root in passion."
Desire laughs, high and sweet. "Do you blame me for being what I am?"
"No, but there are rules, sibling."
"Naturally," Desire replies, crossing its legs. "Exactly why we have set them for our games. Do not think us so stupid as to forget ourselves in our search for fun, dear sister."
"Why, Desire?" Death asks baldly. "Why toy with humans? They are not your pets, they are not your toys."
"On the contrary," Desire smiles. "They are puppets in the wind, directionless and limp without our guidance. And what is guidance without a little fun, pray?"
"Not all of us need pets to find our fun, Desire," Death says, angered.
"No," Desire says, all sharp grin and jagged insinuation. "Some of us need them for love. In our own ways, I suppose, we do all belong to you and each other." It stands, walks to its gallery, trailing fingers under each sigil.
"Do not presume--"
"Ah, but I do not, sweet sister. Matters of the heart are still my domain, are they not? And your heart belongs to me also, as mine does to you." It pauses. "If you repeat that to Dream I shall have to call you a liar."
"Shh," Desire says. "Would you like tea or something stronger?"
It does not occur to Death that Desire may be playing a game yet again. Then again, by the time it does, it really doesn't matter.
3) A picture left on her doorstep.
She had just come home after a day on the job.
The picture was actually a charcoal sketch, which was not so much a sketch as a mangling of the humanoid form, and smudgy paint over it, which had helped with the mangling and incoherent nature of the sketch.
She vaguely managed to pick out Destiny, Delirium and Despair, assumed the tall one was Dream, and the one next to Despair was Desire.
'To those who have changed.' was inscribed under it in a bold hand.
"The colours are nice, at least," she offered, and could swear she heard the echo of a deep, booming chuckle.
4) The first time she stepped into a pet shop on her own time.
"Hi," she says to the old man at the counter. "I'm looking for a pet."
"Is that so?" the old man asks. "What did you have in mind?"
"I'm not sure, really," she admits. "Someone told me they were fun, once."
"FUN?" the old man says incredulously, she's just committed blasphemy. "A pet is a RESPONSIBILITY, not FUN. Young lady, if you think being responsible for a life is just FUN, you should turn around and go home."
"Well," she says, unfazed. "I think responsibility is fun. People tell me I'm slightly mad."
The old man grumbles about kids these days, but Death goes home with a pair of goldfish because they were so cute she couldn't choose just one.
5) The time she made Dream come home with her for hot chocolate.
"My sister?" he had asked.
She had sighed, pushed hair out of her face. "Well, I could say 'because you have the most ridiculous notions of how to defend me to others', but I'm not encouraging that sort of behaviour. No more getting mortals obsessed with me to the point where they write poetry, understand? It's embarrassing."
"I did not put him under any compulsion. I only opened a door."
"Don't play semantics with me, Dream. Well.
"I guess it's because you're my brother. Which comes down to the same thing anyway."
Dream had smiled very, very briefly. "Then it is merely a matter of semantics, is it not?"
"Shut up and drink, little brother."