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Author’s Note: Okay, first it’s been a year since I updated and I’d like to have an excuse for that, but I really don’t other than the fact that I’ve got a full-time job to stress me out, and bills to pay, and I just don’t get inspired like I use to! But, here I am, back at you with hope and love in my eyes, that you’ll accept me like you always have. I promise to be better to you this time around! Second, this chapter goes fast, like we’re covering two months here! The next chapter, however, will be slower, as the meat of the story will really begin in chapter 5! So, without further ado, Chapter Four!
I meet my first ghost while I’m walking through the Room of Requirements. The Gray Lady dropped me here before she left for the Ravenclaw Tower, and I’m stuck trying to decide on what room I’d like to call my own for, well, ever. There is a slight crash, and I jump, fading slightly in visibility while a loud voice starts to curse a suit of armor.
“Excuse me?” I call out, trying to make my presence known. The man looks up, seemingly startled that anyone is talking to him, and he beams while straightening. I notice that he’s carrying something stuffed deep into a shoulder bag, looking for everything I know like a head. I grimace and look back to the ghost in front of me.
“Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, at your very esteemed service, madam.” He bows down, and I can’t control my gasp as his head comes flying from his shoulders towards the floor. It doesn’t fall completely off, and I’m left looking straight at the spinal cord and the muscles that surround it. I feel like I’m about to faint, and I realize that my breathing has become strained.
“Are you quite alright?” I ask quickly as he straightens, nudging his head back onto his shoulders with a quick jerk. He gives me another smile, then pats the bag next to him, almost like a reminder to himself. This time, I definitely notice a shock of coal black hair hanging out of the satchel.
“Well, I’m dead and with my head still mostly attached so I would say I’m quite fine, my dear. Now that you know my name, I’m quite interested in knowing yours.” He clasps his hands behind his back, looking at me expectantly.
“Gweneveive Alexander; I’m a student here at Hogwarts.” He looks at me skeptically and I refocus myself. “Was a student here.” I motion down my ethereal body, and then shrug my shoulders. “I died.”
“Yes, that I can see. Well, at least you still have your head.” He grins slyly, but stiffens as the sounds of horse’s hooves echo in the room. “I must be off, Gweneveive Alexander, but may we meet again!” He takes off at a sprint, holding close to the bag on his hip, and I watch in amazement as a large black stallion carrying a head-less knight rides by, making my hair ruffle in the wind he produces. It finally clicks that Sir Nicholas is the famous Nearly Headless Nick, Gryffindor’s house ghost, and one that I had never met before this.
I sigh to myself as the excitement wanes, and I long for a comfortable armchair to rest in, though I don’t truly feel like sleeping. Suddenly, the room transforms into a small, but cozy room resembling the one I lived in growing up. My eyes tear up as I see the teddy bear that I had had since childhood sitting on a large tufted armchair next to a large fire place that hadn’t originally been there.
Sitting, I grab the bear in my arms, holding tight and using my willpower to keep it in my hands. Then I close my eyes as the fire warmed me. I had learned that I would never truly sleep as a ghost; that when I close my eyes, it’s almost as if my soul drifts in and out of the corporeal world and into that of the pure ethereal. It is a strange feeling, but seemed to keep me from becoming truly crazy.
The days pass quickly, and I learn more from the many ghosts around the castle, each night returning to the Room of Requirements, a place had I seemingly claimed as my own when I arrived at the castle. Hogwarts without students was boring, and I spent my days wishing for a time when I had things to fulfill myself. When I could meet Riley at the park and lounge in the sun, gossiping about our other classmates, and keeping an eye out for any attractive muggles that might be out.
My second meeting with Dumbledore comes directly before school is set to begin. I am called to his office where I find myself face to face with my old head of house. Professor Flitwick stares directly through me, and I pass my hand in front of his face to see if he will react. The headmaster eyes my actions with a slight twinkle in his eyes, and then slides a picture across the desk to Flitwick.
“Ms. Alexander has joined us now, Filius, so if you would be so kind as to have a look at this picture.” Flitwick does as he says without hesitation, and when he next looks up around the room, he is staring directly at me.
“Gwen,” He says with surprise, and I find myself smiling at the smaller man, trying to contain my excitement at being seen again.
“Professor,” I say, my voice thick with emotion.
“Gwen, Filius will be your guide at Hogwarts while school is in session, for those times when I am unreachable. Should you need anything at all, he will be there for you.” I nod at Dumbledore, holding onto the arm of the chair in excitement. Someone else that I will be able to have a conversation with; a real person, not just another ghost.
When the meeting ends, I find myself walking with the bane of most students’ existence at Hogwarts, Peeves. While the friendship was at first him providing me with false information about all things ghostly, over the month I had resided at the castle, we have become fast friends. “Gwendy,” He wines, and I glance over at his floating form. I have yet to master the art of floating, or flying, as most ghosts in the castle do. Every time I tried, it was as if something was weighing me back to the ground. Part of me wanted to believe that it was my human-ness trying to return to my body, but the other part of me knew that I was dead, and in all likelihood, would stay that way.
“Yes?” I keep my answer simple; while Peeves was my friend, he would just as soon make fun of me by mimicking my voice as he would actually ask me a question.
“What will you do when the students return tomorrow? It takes some time for the students to believe in you,” He pauses, floating a little higher while he thought. “Though that might not be a good thing seeing as you’re actually one of them.”
“I know.” I close my eyes, taking a deep breath that flows through my ghostly body like it’s leaking out of my pores, and I think hard. There is a ghost in the castle that I befriended, that lives in the dungeons. She was killed long ago by a fellow student that was accidentally practicing charms she shouldn’t have been practicing. Her name was Mary, and though she was killed in the early years of Hogwarts’ founding, she despised not being able to keep up with the fashion and the times. She had taught me, early on when she found me wandering the castle alone at all hours of the night, how to change my ghostly appearance. I hadn’t mastered the full extent of her teachings yet, but I could do small things.
When I open my eyes, I am wearing a thick jumper instead of my tee shirt. As a ghost, my body is never actually cold, but the act of tucking my hands into my sleeves is a comforting one, even though I feel nothing from it. Peeves is floating ahead of me, talking along like he didn’t realize I had fallen behind. “You should see them from my perspective. They never know you’re there unless you want them to know, and they get into quite a bit of trouble when they don’t know,” I hurry to catch up, pausing with him as we stand in front of the door to my lair.
“Do you only ever think about those boys?” I ask, having heard the story numerous times. Peeves blows a raspberry at me, and flies away, cackling to himself. I continue my walk, pausing to look out over the grounds of the castle. Everyone inside seems to be vibrating with excitement about the students coming back, but all I feel is trepidation.
I’m standing in the Entrance hall when the doors swing open, revealing students and teachers alike, all rushing inside like they’re coming home after a long absence. I hold the breath I don’t need deep in my dead lungs as I catch a shock of curly black hair and mocha skin. Riley walks right past me, and I reach for her, though nothing connects. She seems to shake off anything she might have felt, almost like a sudden gush of wind had touched only her. I curl my arms about myself, retreating back to my rooms, feeling cold tears leak from my eyes.
I follow Riley sometimes, when there is nothing else to do. She fields questions about my death, although there aren’t many who ask. She makes new friends in the other girls in our dorms, having nights in where they gossip about boys, and the going-ons in the social hierarchy of seventh year. I sit on the edge of the bed with them, listening, missing the days when I could have joined in.
Peeves notices my sadness while we’re stalking the Marauders one day, and I stick to the shadows even though I know they can’t see me. I watch the tall, thin brunette that Riley blushes at the name of, and wonder what it is that she finds so attractive in his scarred face. I realize that had I still been alive, I probably would have teased her about him, though now when I look closer, he is handsome in a different kind of way.
“What’s got you down, Lady Gwen?” Peeves laughs at what he assumes to be a clever joke. He’s taken to calling me ‘Lady’ as soon as he realizes my name is a play on Genevieve and King Arthur. I stifle my urge to yell at him, having heard these many jokes my whole life, and keep my eyes on the people ahead of us.
The Quidditch Captain in glasses looks up, but his friend, shorter in height by about an inch, and slightly more muscled, brushes his long black hair out of his eyes and mutters something about it just being Peeves. “Keep your voice down, you lummox.” I whisper, and Peeves just laughs louder.
“Don’t be so upset about being a ghost, little Gwen, otherwise you’ll float off into the abyss, and then where would we be in our lessons?” He cackles again, swooping down to knock the glasses off the tall Marauder. James, I repeat to myself, James Potter.
The lessons he’s talking about are my education in all things Marauders. The poor ghost is obsessed with these boys, and had I not realized that Peeves’ penchant for mischief had never been fulfilled in real life, I would have been annoyed. But it was fun to have something to do during the day, when the doldrums of ghostly life became too much. I couldn’t spend my whole time following Riley around; I was starting to feel like I was haunting her.
I edge closer, not having mastered flying anywhere as high as Peeves could, and listen while the boys tell Peeves to bugger off. They’re huddling over what appears to be a very old piece of parchment, and I stop in my tracks as the one Peeves refers to as Messer Black turns to look directly at me. My breath catches in my throat, but he turns to look back at the parchment without having seen me.
“I think the map is buggered, Prongs. I’ve never heard of this chick in my life, and yet, here she is on our map, standing less than a meter behind us.” He runs his hand through his hair, and my eyes widen. How had I not realized that they were holding the infamous Marauder’s map? And I couldn’t believe that I showed up on it. Hope springs into my heart, until I realize that unless they believed I existed, they would never truly see me.
Waving quickly to Peeves, I walk away, trying again to find some sort of hope in being a ghost.
It’s Halloween, and I’m following Riley and her friends to the Room of Requirements, that has been taken over for the night by the Marauder’s, preparing for a Halloween party of epic proportions. Riley is dressed like a witch, laughing at the irony of it. I had played a small part in her costume change, having knocked the window into the room open and spilling an entire vat of nail polish onto her ‘sexy cat’ costume. We would have never gone as scantily clad as her new friends, and though Riley occasionally wrote in her journal about missing me, she had stopped bringing me up at sleepovers.
I felt that, if she was going to slowly become a new person, I still wanted to occasionally see my old best friend. It was selfish of me, because Riley wouldn’t see me again, unless I could convince her I was still here, but there was a part of me that wanted to hold onto something. I didn’t want to just slink into the shadows and be a ghost with only ghost friends for the rest of my life.
They enter the party, and I watch as she and the other seventh years went to the dance floor, squealing as they meet other party goers. James Potter and Sirius Black are holding court in the middle, and they wink at the new girls, James sneaking glances every few moments to Lily Evans over in the corner with a Gryffindor boy I didn’t know.
I walk to the table off to the side, looking envious of all the different party wares spaced on the table in front of me. I’d kill for a sugar quill, and I’m looking at it with longing when I hear a voice from next to me.
“Not a fan of costume parties?” I continue to look over the table, until my eyes meet a pair of golden orbs and I realize that the man dressed as a vampire next to me is actually speaking to me.
“Sorry?” I say, breathless, and he laughs.
“It’s just you’re not wearing a costume.” He grins and reaches across me, grabbing the sugar quill I had been eying.
And it’s then that I realize that this boy, Remus Lupin, is looking right at me, not through me, and he’s smiling at me, and talking to me.
And he sees me.
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