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Chapter 8 : Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington
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By: PureBlood Muggle
Chapter Graphic: Infairi
Beta Read By: Jessi_Rose and Nicalyse
Title: Neither Hither Nor Thither
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (mild violence)
For the Staff: This is dedicated to all the fantastic Staff at HPFF.
The world wouldn't be the same without this wonderful fanfiction
archive and forums. Thank you for all your hard work!
And thank you to Infairi for making this wonderful chapter graphic
for me, as well as a big thank you to my two betas Jessi_Rose and
It was uncharacteristically warm for late October. The sun shone brightly in the cloudless sky. Leaves on the trees were starting to change colour from luscious green to vibrant oranges and yellows and a myriad shades of reds and browns. Chestnuts started falling off the majestic trees that stood tall and proud in the local park.
The local park, where my life took an unexpected turn on this fateful, beautiful day in 1492.
In those days it was difficult to be a wizard. Not that the magic itself was more demanding, no. All over the country we were feared for our magical powers were deemed unholy and devilish; sometimes, it was claimed that we were the devil himself in many a disguise. In the widespread fear of wizards and witches, we were hunted down by Muggles, like one would hunt down a rabid dog. Once found guilty of witchcraft or wizardry, the cruellest of ways were found to dispose of us. Whenever one of us got caught, we luckily were able to use our magic to forgo that dreadful fate on most occasions. Many a Muggle, however, died needlessly, burnt at the stake, mistaken for a witch or wizard.
And we just looked on. We did not dare interfere. More and more did we remove ourselves from the Muggle world; we stopped offering our help with everyday tasks as well as medical advice. What good would it do to heal a Muggle only for him to point at you in fear, shouting, “He’s a wizard!” They did not understand us, as we did not understand them.
Of course, Muggles hunting us and trying to kill us only fuelled the old pureblood families’ belief that Muggle Hunting should be legal. This was, however, frowned upon since the great Merlin himself set up the Order of Merlin, an organisation established to ensure no magic would be used on unsuspecting Muggles. By and large, those rules set by the Order were, publicly at least, obeyed. None of the noblest of wizards and witches would risk their good name to be tainted by openly going against the greatest wizard who ever graced our earth. Still, many a Muggle met a fateful, unsuspecting end, no doubt by the hand of one wizard or another. Business was booming for assassins, who could be bought for their sworn secrecy and their clean work.
It has to be said that at the time, strictly speaking, there was no actual law prohibiting the use of magic in front of Muggles. Although the amount of magical people displaying their abilities decreased significantly out of fear of executions by such horrible methods, even magic could not save you from.
I should know. It happened to me.
As I already pointed out, that fateful day in question was uncharacteristically warm and beautiful for that time of year. After a long day, and although I was tired from the day’s activities, I looked forward to a stroll through our local park; today, more so than on any other day. I was going to see her again.
My sweet Lorelei. She was beautiful, at least to me she was the most beautiful woman on earth. Her skin was pale and as delicate as the finest Chinese porcelain, her hair had the colour of golden honey, her eyes the depth of the deepest sapphire blue ocean and her lips were the colour of the ripest cherries. Whenever she smiled at me, the whole world lit up and all my worries dissipated into a feeling of content. Nothing bad could happen to me as long as I had her heart. She was my life, my everything. And on that glorious day, on the thirtieth day of October 1492, I was going to muster up all my Gryffindor courage and ask for her hand in marriage.
I had everything planned out for us. A small ceremony with only the closest of our friends. The priest had accepted my modest donation and agreed to oversee the proceedings the next day, for I did not want to wait any longer to call my sweet Lorelei my wife. The best dress maker in town sat, expecting her to call in the evening so that her gown may be ready by morning. The goldsmith, a very talented Goblin, sat, waiting for my sign to finish the rings.
Oh, how mocking it seemed that my last full day on earth as a living, breathing human being was so beautiful.
I had arrived at the park at the exact time we agreed upon; the nineteenth hour. Before long, my eyes spotted her strolling towards me, radiating perfection. When she reached me, I greeted her with a bow and took her hand in mine, blowing a chaste kiss on it before offering my arm for her to take. And so we strolled among the trees for a few precious minutes. Neither of us spoke for we were comfortable just being in each other’s company.
To the objective observer I may have looked calm on the outside. On the inside, however, turmoil raged through me. I questioned, once again, how I deserved the love of such a beautiful and loving woman.
We passed a vendor who sold hot roasted sweet chestnuts and I purchased a portion for us to share. Lorelei and I halted under a particularly large chestnut tree and seated ourselves on the cast iron bench at the foot of its trunk. For a while, we sat in complete silence, bar a few murmurs of “Thank you” and “You are welcome” as I passed her one more of the delicious chestnut fruits.
I studied her features and it did not escape me that she looked nervous. Or did I only imagine such thing due to my own nervous state of mind? Again, I thought about the best way of proposing to her. And then, there was the other problem. Lorelei was a Muggle and I was a pureblood wizard. It was certainly not unheard of; Muggles and Wizards joined in marriage.
It was, however, a secret I had yet to share with her. As far as she was concerned, I too was as normal a Muggle as herself.
And right there, under that majestic tree, on that cast iron bench, it suddenly seemed perfect. The right time to do what my heart told me to do. I summoned all my courage and cleared my throat while she placed her delicate lips around yet another maroon. She raised her eyes to meet mine with a curious expression reflecting in them. She was so beautiful.
“My sweet Lorelei, I have…”
I was interrupted by a sound of pain escaping her mouth. The sweet chestnut she had bitten into seconds earlier had broken one of her front teeth. I immediately dropped the rest of the delicacies and gently put a finger under her chin to turn her to me so I could take a better look at the damage. Watery tears shimmered in her sapphire blue eyes as she reluctantly opened her mouth for me to inspect.
It had been a long day. From early morning I had prepared all arrangements for our wedding for I was sure I had her heart in the same way she had mine. I was tired, but more so I was nervous; nervous about revealing the full truth about myself. With a flick of my wand I could restore her striking smile. It was time to tell her.
“I can fix your tooth,” I spoke softly, reassuringly.
“How?” The tears that moments ago threatened to escape her eyes now cascaded down her flawless, flushed cheeks. I looked into her eyes only to find despair and sorrow; but I also found something else. Trust and love. She trusted me and she loved me. So I whispered quickly, before my courage left me again.
I reached into the inside of my cloak, where I stored my wand in a specially sown pocket, and drew it out for her to see. Her look changed to one of surprise and… fear?
“No!” She exclaimed, “No, you can’t be…”
“Sh, my love, it will be alright, I can fix your tooth.” I cupped her face with my right hand while keeping my wand in my other. “Just a quick wave of my wand and you smile will shine as bright as the sun again.” I knew the spell well, for I had used it on many a small Muggle child on the streets. Muggle children, you see, have no fear of magic. Children have no preconceptions, no prejudice. They still see and notice what adults ignore, until they are robbed of their innocence and slowly moulded into a proper member of Muggle society.
Densaugeo Restituo Dentis
That was all I had to say, while carefully aiming at the right tooth. Alas, fate had a different idea.
“Densaugeo tsk-choo,” a sneeze overcame me without warning. And, to my horror it did so in the middle of the incantation. The tooth did not re-grow and repair but a tusk sprouted from her mouth, grown down to the tip of her chin. Lorelei let out a terrible, terrible shriek and from all over the park, passers by ran over to see what had caused her outburst.
She had her hands firmly clasped over her mouth in a frantic try to conceal the damage I had done. I was in shock; all my mind could concentrate upon was the thought that I had hurt her. Desperately, I tried to think of the spell to counter it. Just then, when I raised my wand arm again to try and undo what I had accidentally done, our eyes locked. Never had I seen such fright in them. I was caught so very much by surprise to see the fear so openly in her face that I dropped my wand like a piece of hot coal and jumped up off the bench. I sputtered, stuttered that I could mend it, that I meant her no harm.
But she didn’t listen. Didn’t want to listen.
She cried horrible tears of anguish at her state and it tore me apart. I wanted nothing more than to restore her to her former beauty. I bent my knee to kneel in front of her and a deafening sound reached my ears.
I prayed to Merlin and even the Muggle God that it wasn’t true, but when I lowered my gaze to the grounds my eyes found my wand. Cleanly snapped in two by my own knee. I had no time to lament the loss of my wand, or to even contemplate how to fix my sweet Lorelei’s tooth without it, for the shouts became louder and louder drowning out all thought.
“He’s a wizard! He magicked her!”
“I saw it with me own eyes! He’s the devil!”
“Run for your lives!”
Desperately, I tried to think of a way out. Wandless magic was never one of my best talents and disapparating away would be suicidal without my wand and in the state I was in, I would surely splinch myself. The main reason I stayed however, if not the only reason, was my Lorelei. I loved her and I wanted to take her pain away and make her see that she was still in love with me.
I pleaded with her, even when strong hands dragged me away. I shouted for her, declared my love for her and insisted I could truly restore her beauty. But she only buried her face deeper in her hands and refused to even acknowledge me. I could see the sobs racking her body and it pained me that I had caused it and was now powerless to change it.
They took me away and locked me into a small cell, like a common criminal. In their eyes, I was. I pleaded with the Muggles, told them I could put her right. But they did not believe me, nor did they stay to listen to my cries.
All night I cried sitting on the cold stone floor of my mouldy cell. In one corner a heap of straw lay piled up, infested with rats. The only light source that filtered into the place came from a small slit high up near the ceiling. For want of a better word, that was probably a window. Water dripped down de side walls and from parts of the ceiling; many an infestation of small bugs crawled across the floor.
I cried. I truly cried. Not for myself but for my love. I never knew a broken heart could be so painful. Here, where no one could see me I gave in to tears.
As dawn neared I knew my time would be short if found guilty by the Muggles. I had to think of a plan for my trial. Of course, I would have to deny any magical ability.
But it never came. The trial.
I was found guilty without one and swiftly sentenced to death by means of the axe. Again I pledged my innocence but without success.
The Muggle priest entered my small confine and asked if I wished to confess. I knew then that my end had come and all hope of a pardon left my heart. I did confess then. I confessed my love to Lorelei and made a promise to never leave her and always watch over her. Then, the priest blessed me and told me it was time to go. Head held high, I followed the priest out into the dark corridor where I was immediately shackled by two fierce looking guards.
I was led outside and the bright morning sunshine near blinded me. A fairly large crowd had already gathered in the street to watch the spectacle, parting for us like water does for a passing boat as we made our way through. When we arrived in the middle of the town square and the last of the gathered people made space for us, I saw it; the huge block of wood, placed carefully in the middle of a raised platform. Next to it stood the executioner who would have the grim task to rid me of my head.
Should I try to run?
No. After all, I was a Gryffindor. And Gryffindors never ran away from their fate. As we arrived at the block I stood tall and overheard the executioner talk with a man who looked like the guard in charge.
“So you did not sharpen the axe?”
“Aye, Sir. Coudn’ fin’ the stone ta do so.”
“Will it still work?”
“Aye. Bu’ it migh’ take a couple more blows than normal.”
“Do your best.”
A couple more blows?
This did not sound right. Oh what an end I was going to receive!
All the while my eyes scanned the crowd. I found friends and family and for a brief moment of time my heart leapt in hopes they would rescue me. Then, I noticed the looks of utter disgust on their faces. My heart sank again, lower than ever. How could I have hoped? For they despised me for betraying my family once before when I was sorted into Gryffindor house and not Slytherin like my brothers. Now, I had been caught courting a Muggle woman. In their eyes I have disgraced my whole family.
I tore my eyes away and they found… her. My Lorelei. Before I could study her expression though, I was made to kneel and place my head on the block.
That’s when it left me. My Gryffindor courage, my bravery. I turned into a gibbering wreck, sobbing and declaring, once again, my innocence.
Strange, how everything around me blurred. As I took my last few breaths on this earth the noise from the crowd chanting to the executioner drowned out any coherent thoughts. The noise was so loud, it felt deathly quiet. Then, I noticed it really was quiet. The crowd held their breaths, eagerly awaiting the blow to sever my head cleanly off my body. I closed my eyes, feeling salty tears running down my unshaven face. I resisted the urge to wipe them away. The silence was broken only by the executioner’s mordant words.
“This may sting a bit.”
A collective gasp from the crowd and a swoosh from the axe and my neck and my head felt so sore! But no difference it made. It did not behead me, just gave me a pain unimaginably sharp. Definitely sharper than the axe. And, oh those mordant words once again!
“Won’t be too long.”
Again and again he hacked at my neck, causing pain beyond belief. My last conscious breath I took thinking of Lorelei. No, I couldn’t leave her! I needed to see her again. Oh but my eyes refused to open and my lungs wouldn’t fill with air. I couldn’t die! I was not ready.
Then, I stood, looking upon myself. A bloody mess I was. My head had not fallen off the block and the executioner raised his axe once again. The chief guard however, stopped him.
“It is enough. It is done, he is dead. Forty-five blows are quite alright. Your deed is done, you may leave.”
“Aye, Sir, thank you, Sir.”
Forty-five times?! I stood there in shock of hearing that news. Those were a lot of blows, but why did my head not fall off? I crept closer, aghast at the thought of me dead and noticed my head was still attached. Barely, but clearly. Then I remembered why I was still there.
It had worked!
I looked down myself and noticed that I shimmered and one could see through me. So it was true. I was not dead. Well, I was, but I had not crossed to the other side. I was now a ghost. An imprint of myself. I smiled. I could still be with Lorelei!
I raised my eyes and scanned the slowly dispersing crowd. Where was she? Did she leave to mourn over my death? I searched and searched and at last I found her, slowly walking away in her long, flowing white dress. She looked like an angel to me. I wanted to get closer to her but found too many people in my way. Then, the strangest thing happened. A Muggle walked through me. It felt weird. Although, I didn’t really feel anything. It was more a case of me somehow knowing what it would feel like if I could still feel anything physical at all.
The Muggle must have felt something though as he shivered noticeably and quickly blessed himself. He mustn’t have seen me. And if he could walk through me… I smiled. Within seconds I was by my Lorelei’s side.
”Lorelei! My sweet Lorelei!”
I called out to her, but she ignored me, or did she not hear me? I called her name again, but still no reaction. I reached out to touch her arm but my hand went straight through her and she shivered and quickly blessed herself. I could not touch her. Was it possible she could not hear me?
I followed her home and watched her sit in her front room and cry hot tears from her beautiful eyes. She loved me as much as I loved her, I knew that now. She grieved for me and it pained me to see her that way. She told me of the witch that righted her teeth. She told me of her regret for not being able to help me out of fear of being burnt at the stake herself. However, I could not make contact with her, could not answer her. So I just sat in the same room as her and stayed with her until her sobs quietened and she fell into an uneasy sleep right there in her chair.
While she slept I floated outside and tried a few things to confirm my theories. After a few hours I found that cats and dogs could either see me or sense my proximity for they would bark at me or hiss at me. Some of the children I encountered could see me. Most of them very small and, to my horror, punished by their parents for telling lies when they tried to tell their mother or father that I was there.
Many years had passed since I became a ghost and took up residence in Lorelei’s house. I stayed with her for two years. It comforted me to be near her. And for almost two years all was well. She had grieved for me and talked to me when she was alone. She told me of her days, that she missed me and wished she would have reacted differently. But she could not hear my responses, could not hear my declarations of love for her. And then, one day in July 1494, she stopped. She stopped talking to me. Stopped crying every now and then when the pain overwhelmed her. On my second death day, the last day of October 1494, she spoke to me again, for the very last time. She told me of her love for me, told me of her broken heart and told me of him. He made her laugh. I would like him if only I were able to meet him. He would take care of her.
I did not believe my ears. I followed her outside and followed her to our little park. She strolled gracefully, looking beautiful as ever and then she stopped. Stopped under our Chestnut tree. That’s where she said those final words to me, whispered into the autumn wind.
“Goodbye Nicholas, my love.”
She took a shaking breath and straightened her back. Purposefully, yet still gracefully, she walked away, into the waiting arms of him. He offered her his arm and she took it, smiling. A surge of rage coursed through me. How could she do this to me? I swore my love to her for all eternity and here she left me, left me after only two years!
Oh, how bitter I was then. I floated around, feeling most depressed. I could not bear seeing her with him. A few days I spent floating around without purpose or aim. I even wished myself dead, how ironic. Where now could I find happiness ever again?
Still, I went from one place to the next, finding it harder and harder to stay in one location for too long. One day, in spring of 1495, I found my way back to a castle high up in the Scottish Highlands on the shore of a great loch. Fond memories flooded me and I floated across the water as fast as I possibly could. A feeling I had not felt in what seemed like forever engulfed me.
I was home. At a place full of happy memories where I could forever grieve my lost love and at the same time in a place where I could be heard and seen. For witches and wizards were able to see me, hear me, speak with me. And I remembered now, from my school days, that other ghosts were resident already. I distinctly remember The Bloody Baron. He was scary when I was a lad. I wondered if he still was now that I too was a ghost?
Out of habit, I floated to the large oak front doors of the castle and tried to push them open only to go straight through. I shook my head. Of course, I was a ghost now. Loud noises of animated chatting came from the Great Hall and I went in as fast as I could. It was full of children, from small first years to seventh years. I was so excited that I bobbed up and down, laughing.
Shrieks brought me back to my… senses. Children were staring at me and I quickly arranged my head back onto my shoulders. How embarrassing. If I still could, I probably would have coloured cheeks now. My head, which still was attached by the tiniest of skin, had fallen to the side while I bobbed up and down. Straightening out my ruff to hide my botched execution I made my way to the staff table at the other end of the Great Hall to introduce myself.
And now, 500 years later, in 1995 I am still here. Sometimes, I remember my sweet Lorelei. But the pain is too big to do so and I try to move on and help the students instead. In times like these most students seek help in dealing with the loss of a loved one. They believe I can help them. Because I died. I am being asked the same question over and over again. What happens when one dies? It is hard to answer as I did not cross over. I stayed in nowhere land in between the land of the dead and the living. Just once, I wished they would ask me about Arithmancy. I was good at Arithmancy when I was a student myself.
Alas, I was now only known as the resident ghost of the noble Gryffindor House. They even gave me a nickname. Nearly Headless Nick they call me. I know they don’t mean anything bad by it. Yet it pains me that this tiny piece of skin would be a burden I would carry for the rest of my time here on earth. For an eternity, for that was how long I would still be here.
Time has no meaning to me anymore for only when time itself will cease to exist, so will I. Until then, I will be in between the worlds of the living and the dead - neither hither nor thither.
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