Chapter 1 : The tale
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There was one thing in my life at Hogwarts that fascinated me above all others, the ghosts. I made it my challenge to find out about the most revered and least seen of the Hogwarts ghosts, The Rider. Everyone knew about the House Ghosts; the Grey Lady, Nick, the Bloody Barron and the Friar, but I wanted to understand how the ghosts made their choice and how the Rider died.
The rider was a young child who haunted the lowest part of the school; the bottom dungeon. No one ever went there, they had no need and it was also said that if you saw The Rider someone was going to die. The Rider only ever left his cell once in the five years I knew of him, and that day was a dark day for my world.
It took me a long time, but thought the excessive studying and continuous questioning of those ghosts who did know about him, I found out a little about the sad child that had become The Rider.
As a ghost he is a dark smoky grey colour, his pale skin is emphasised by his state and has the typical translucence about it. Where his eyes should be there are only ghostly orbs, I have not found out why this is. He peddles his small bike round the unused dungeons of Hogwarts in his endless ride, whistling his favourite, eerie tune; Molly Malone.
He died at the turn of the last century, The Rider was then known as Edmund-John Conran, he was only eight at the time of his death.
Little is known about Edmund but I have pieced together the few things I have found; it is a very sad tale and I am grieved that I should have to repeat it, but I feel as an author that his story should be told.
The Conran’s were a very popular and prosperous family in the little Scottish hamlet that they had moved to recently. Glasgow had become too crowded and smog covered and their sickly child had to be moved out for his own health, the doctor said that the fresh air “would do him good”
The fateful day Edmund died was the day of his eighth birthday. As far as I can find out he had received a bicycle, it was an encouragement for him to get out in the fresh air. He had recently learnt to ride on a bicycle that had been found in the new house, he had pleaded with his parents to let him out for a short ride and at some point they had given in. He set out down the centre road of the small village and then took the next road which ran a long side a steep cliff. He wobbled his way along the road and continued to climb up the small hill; he was almost at the brow of the hill. At some point between him getting to the top of the hill and dying, a horse and cart flew past, the driver not even seeing the small boy on his bike. The boy over balanced and fell to the bottom of the gorge, never letting go of his prised bike.
His parents became worried and went to look for him, they found him and it was a moment that they never forgot. Their eight year old son lay dead at the bottom of the gorge; it would have looked like he was sleeping, except for the blood which was flowing from his nose and mouth. The doctor said that he had haemorrhaged when he hit his head.
At some point this child’s spirit must have chosen to stay behind; normally this is the case for Wizards or Witches who have unfinished business, but The Rider is an unusual case as he is a muggle.
The spirit child cycled the Scottish moors, never ceasing his endless ride. It was reported to me by the Grey Lady, that this sorry soul appeared one day, in the second decade of the twentieth century, at Hogwarts. The other ghosts kept their distance, feeling that there was something wrong about him, he sort out the Head Master who took pity on him and let him stay. This was when he took up his residence in the bottom dungeon.
One day, I was told of how he has a sense, a sense about death and that he would appear when someone in the castle was going to die. His first appearance coincided with the opening of one legendary chamber. The night Myrtle died the eerie sound of a chain turning and Molly Malone could be heard echoing through the first floor. No one took any notice of The Rider; they just assumed that he had finally given up his lowly haunting. But then four years later when the sound of Molly Malone was once again heard and the Runes teacher suffered a heart attack and died the ghosts and teachers finally put two and two together. There was also occasion time The Rider showed his pale face, in my fifth year. Only the Bloody Barron bared witness to him, for everyone else was crowded on the school fields watching the ghastly events unfurl for themselves.
The day everything changed for me was a dark spring evening; I was coming back from a late night detention with Slughorn. I had climbed the last steps up to the first floor when I heard the auspicious tune echoing through the halls. I ran, I wanted to see The Rider before he vanished, I wanted to ask him questions, I wanted to know who was going to die.
I came upon the chilled air as soon as I beheld the ghostly figure on its misty bike; he turned his black orbs to me, a face which portrayed slight contentment. He cocked his head to one side. His whistling ceased.
“The man who is like a bumblebee will fall” he said airily letting the words drop in the chilled air.
I just stared, he had never spoken to anyone other than the Grey Lady and the Headmaster, I was one of the privileged few.
Molly Malone started again and the sound of the cogs turning echoed in the vaulted ceiling. There was another sound now echoing through the hall; it was the sound of slippers on flagstones.
“Miss Blake, ah I see that you have heard The Rider too. Is he about” Professor Dumbledore had moved his way down the hall way; he was dressed in his night gown and had a hat place over his silver hair. His blue eyes were watching me over his half-moon spectacles as if he could see right through me.
“Sorry Sir he had just gone” I said a little stiffly, the words the ghostly child had said to me were still stuck in my mind.
“Did he say anything?” the aged man inquired, I looked him up and down wandering if I should trust him. I looked from his eyes to his black withered hand; such a contrast, and then to his nose so that it looked like I was looking at his eyes.
“Yes, ‘the man who is like a bumblebee will fall’, that’s what he said”
“Interesting, now we don’t want you to get caught out of bed out of hours, good night Miss Blake”
I quickly turned on my heal and hurried away too my common room, thoughts rushing through my head.
The rhyme behind the riddle was revealed only an evening later; as the bumblebee man fell from the lightning struck tower.
As I think back now, I know he knew; even before The Rider uttered his riddle. I have also realised that words are laced with meanings, and should never be taken lightly. Fifty years later I now have eternity to dwell on everything that has come to pass or may come to pass; as I truly haunt the library.
Haunting, or what?
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R 'n' R APU