Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the main character…and a small yacht where I spend my time toying around the Mediterranean (but, actually, not one of those either).
Quick Note and Hello – Thank you so much to those who have given this story a chance and have read and endured the first chapter. I hope that you are enjoying it so far, and that you look forward to reading on to see what more I have in store for you. As always, hello and thank you for your support. Now, please, enjoy. :)
Lovely chapter image by starbuck. over at TDA!
My funeral isn’t exactly what I expect it to be.
First of all, I didn’t think that I would be watching my body be lowered into the ground at the age of 17. Second, I didn’t think that I would be standing directly next to the guests at my funeral, a measly six people including my father, my grandmother, my best friend, a priest, and two of the gravediggers.
At first, I plead with my father to see me. I beg my grandmother to open her eyes and stop looking through me. I ask Riley to hear me, to stop looking at my casket and believing that I’m stuck inside, gone from the world. Nothing results from my pleading, and so I stand opposite of the grave and watch as they lower my casket into the ground.
Riley’s bloodshot dark blue eyes remain in my own eyesight long after my father, his cheek bandaged and his record clean after lying to the police about how I fell, has left. She sits in the folding chair that is sitting by my headstone, watching as my grave fills with dirt. She tucks her long black hair behind her ear, wiping away the last of the mascara from her eyes.
“Please, Rye,” I whisper, knowing she won’t hear me. Her eyes glance around, wandering over my standing figure. I realize she won’t see me, won’t listen to me, won’t laugh at my jokes, pick out my clothes, or gossip with me ever again. My fists clench of their own accord while I grind my jaw tightly to keep the tears from springing into my eyes.
Riley says nothing, as the last of the dirt is placed upon my chestnut coffin which contains my cleaned up and dressed body. She looks down at her pocket, pulling something small out. I see the glint of the chain, recognizing the small “best friends” charm on the necklace we gave bought for each other for Christmas three years ago. We’d vowed that night that we would be best friends forever, no matter what happened.
I can’t help the whimper that escapes my mouth as she drapes the chain over my headstone, touching her hand to my carved name, and then with silent tears on her face, walks away from the cemetery towards the car that waits for her on the road. My face burns with the salt from my tears as I walk over and trace my finger just above the locket.
I know my fingers won’t touch the cool metal, but I long to touch it anyway. My legs slowly crumble beneath me, and I unceremoniously collapse under the darkening sky, watching as the tears that drip from my eyes disappear before they touch the ground. I’m a ghost of a dead girl; and I know, it would be easier if I could just disappear as well.
I end up outside of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; the only place I know that contains ghosts of all sorts. Although, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, I’m not sure how I got here. The last thing I actually remember was laying on the newly turned dirt at my gravesite, closing my eyes and trying to think of a solution to my problem. The next thing I know my feet are pulling me up a path towards a large gate that I have had the fortune of seeing every year for the past six years.
The gate is shut, but as I walk towards it, my boots making no footprint in the mud, the gate swings open of its own accord. I take a deep breath, feeling something stir in the pit of my stomach that feels a lot like relief. I send up a silent prayer to whatever god is out there for the invention of magic. It strikes me as funny that when I was alive I would often do that; praise whatever god I had chosen to believe in that day. But now, as a ghost or a spirit or whatever it was that I am, I wonder if there could actually be a god. And if there was, did that mean that I could now communicate with him or her directly?
Things to think about later, I conclude, while making my way up to the large castle. I walk past the Quidditch field, and the first light of hope begins to filter into my mind. Hogwarts is a place of magic, is a place that has always felt like home to me when I couldn’t have my life at my own home. And best of all, Hogwarts was home to the most powerful and genius-level wizard I had ever heard of: Albus Dumbledore. If he couldn’t help me, then I was afraid no one else could.
I reach the castle doors, the Great Hall standing just steps in front of me, and I wonder for the first time since I’ve arrived at the castle just how to approach all of this. Do I knock on the door? If I knock on the door will anyone be able to hear it? Will my hand go right through? Should I just dissolve through the door as I’ve discovered I can?
I decide to take the most normal approach, stepping up to the enormous doors and knocking on them. As I suspect it will, my hand slides right through the wood without making contact. I pull myself back, the feeling of sliding through a solid object not one that I’ll be able to get used to for quite some time, and I cross my arms in front of my chest. Deciding against trying to knock a second time, I grit my teeth and push myself through the door to the castle, feeling the magic held within the wood sink into my ethereal body.
Stranger than anything I’ve felt before, the magic courses through me, making goose bumps appear on my arms, my fingernails tingle, and my toes curl. It’s pure, unadulterated magic housed within the walls and doors and every stone in between, and it feels like I have the power to do anything. But the feeling leaves me as I push out through into the entrance hall, and I feel the sudden jolt of nothingness once again.
Although being aware of my body and its movements had never been something that I truly wanted to think too deeply on when I was alive, now that I was a ghost, or something of the sort, I wished to be able to feel myself bump a doorway, or feel the fullness of my feet hitting the ground. I turn my thoughts away from the depressing direction they are taking, and I do a small turn around the amazingly large entrance hall.
It feels so much larger when alone, I note first and foremost, and the second thing I notice is that Hogwarts seems to be asleep. It’s as if the castle itself is sleeping, gathering its strength for when the students arrive and it must perform for its guests once again; where it must unfold secret doorways, tapestries that lead to forbidden hideouts, and open its deepest self to hundreds of children eager for knowledge.
I move forward, towards the stairway, and I pause again. Knocking hadn’t worked, but I had felt the magic in the school. I know what it can do. So maybe, if I allow myself to hope, calling out into the quiet would rouse someone into recognizing my presence? At least I could trouble the Bloody Barron to take a break to lead me to Dumbledore?
I clear my throat, clenching my fists together as I quietly utter, “Anyone there?” I shake my head at myself, knowing that wouldn’t be loud enough for someone right next to me to hear. Biting down on my lip, I contemplate my courage and realize just why I was sorted into Ravenclaw and not Gryffindor – my smarts greatly outweighed my meager courage. Do it, I hear my mind scream at me, and so I open my mouth the second time, taking in a deep breath and letting my voice rise. “Hello? Is anybody there?” My voice feels like it reverberates off the walls, down the corridors and into the confines of the quiet castle. I feel my confidence rise and I yell again. “Please, can someone help me?”
There is no answer at first, and I start to panic. If no one can see me, then no one can help me. I don’t want to be doomed to walk the earth alone and unseen for the rest of my ghostly existence. Then, out of the corner or my eye, a figure moves in the darkness. I pause the pacing I didn’t remember starting and wait for it to approach.
“Hello?” I utter, timidness seeping into my voice, and I pray that whoever it is can hear me and see me. When no response comes, my heart begins to race, my eyes peering deeper into the darkness. There is no more movement, and then, without warning, she appears directly in front of me. A startled gasp escapes me, the squeaking bounding off the walls in a cacophony of embarrassment.
“You’re the Grey Lady,” I realize, taking a small step back to fully see the woman in front of me. She looks at me with a calculating stare, taking in my appearance, or lack of solidness, and then meets my eyes with a sharp gaze.
“You are a ghost.” She states, nothing surprised in her voice. She is soft-spoken, but a commanding presence, and I note that her eyes look sad; unlike any I have seen on any of the other ghosts. I remember the stories, about why she is never seen, and I wonder what it is about me that made her come from her hiding spot, and then I realize she is still looking at me like she knows more than she lets out. “You are a student, are you not?”
“I am, or was, I guess,” I realize that my voice is pitching, rising and falling in excitement. She can see me. She can actually see me. “I died, obviously, and then I came back, but no one can see me and I can’t touch or feel anything and I didn’t have a place to go so I came here. But I’m not really sure what I’m doing and you’re the first person I’ve talked to in ages and,” I pause my ranting as she turns away, walking daintily up the staircase and not looking back. I watch as she continues and then speak. “Uhm, where are you going?”
Unaware that I am doing so, I start to fade slightly as I think about whether or not I have disappeared from her view. Then, she speaks, reassuring me. “I am taking you to Dumbledore. It is why you came, is it not?” She doesn’t turn around, only continues to stride away from me, and I take a moment before racing after her, climbing the stairs and skipping the trick step by habit. I wonder if I can now step on it without getting caught in its wood. A question to answer later, I think, as I notice the Grey Lady disappearing around a corner.
We make our way through the empty corridors, past sleeping portraits on the wall, and I realize that for the very first time since I came to Hogwarts six years ago, that I haven’t had to pause for breath or gotten tired during our trek. Dying hasn’t been easy, but I realize that perhaps it does have a perk. I’m smiling slightly to myself when I realize that we’ve stopped in front of the omnipresent Gargoyle that guards Dumbledore’s office.
It springs to life as the Grey Lady clears her throat. “I need to speak with Professor Dumbledore.” There is no please, no question in her voice, only a command that the Gargoyle can do nothing but follow. It moves aside, and the winding staircase appears.
My heart begins to race against my chest as we near the top of the stairs. My palms feel damp and nervousness begins to color my vision. If Dumbledore doesn’t help me, I’ll have nowhere left to go, I realize, and that pressure feels enormous against my throat. The Grey Lady reaches up and knocks on the door, her knuckles making solid contact with the wood. Envy runs into my veins. And then as I begin to lose faith in ever finding a solution to my death, a voice rings out from the other side, one that immediately sets my feelings at ease.
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