Chapter 2 : Harry's Haunting
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At first it was fun, but then Harry became tired and had to rest for twenty minutes. Once he had regained his strength, he discovered he could alter his body to look scary, with creepy eyes and fangs and clawed hands. He also found he could make light and a bit of heat as well. “Wicked!” he exclaimed. He found he could move very quickly through the air when he concentrated on a destination.
He flitted about the castle, delighted with his ability to move largely unseen from place to place. He decided to check out the forbidden third floor corridor, reasoning that he couldn’t die a dreadful death when he was already a ghost. He soared through the air and went through the only door on the floor.
To his astonishment, he found a snoozing three headed dog, which reminded him of Cerberus, the dog in Greek mythology that guarded the gates of the Underworld. The dog snored so loudly that Harry was almost blown across the room. But he managed to phase through the trapdoor beside its massive paw and floated down a dark tunnel and through a room with a floor like a huge chessboard, another that had flying keys, and still another with bottles of potions and a logic puzzle. The last room was empty and the final one was as well, save for an ornate mirror.
Harry was disappointed. Where was the fabulous treasure that the dog and these other rooms had been guarding? What was so great about a dusty mirror that didn’t even show your own reflection . . .in fact it showed nothing at all?
Well, at least he could tell Hannah and Justin to quit fretting over what could be in third floor corridor. Maybe McGonagall had been warning them to stay away so the three-headed dog wouldn’t eat them? That made sense.
He glided about the mirror again, and had a brilliant idea on how to scare Malfoy. Smirking, he made his way back to the dungeons and slipped through the Slytherin portrait hole. Everything was dark, with only a few dimly lit glowlamps in the dormitories.
Luckily, as a ghost, Harry could see in the darkness. He quickly found Draco’s bed. Draco was sprawled across it, snoring away.
Harry grinned. For once he thanked Dudley for his love of horror flicks, because what he was about to do had been inspired by one called Soul Trapper, about a cursed mirror that trapped people’s souls inside it forever until the curse was broken.
Normally, Harry wouldn’t have considered scaring a fellow student half to death, but Malfoy had been a royal git to everyone since he’d come to school. He had made Hannah cry when he shoved a garter snake in her bookbag—she was terrified of snakes ever since her little brother had gotten bitten and almost died by a viper in the garden. He had humiliated Justin during Herbology, making fun of the other boy’s slight stammer, calling him the Repeating Retard. He had tripped Harry in the hallway while going to potions one day and when Harry’s glasses fell off, deliberately stepped on them and broke them. Luckily Professor Amalthea knew how to mend them. He had even stolen Neville Longbottom, a Gryffindor’s, Remembrall during flying class, or so said the school grapevine.
Harry recalled what Tobias had said to him once about bullies—either you had to ignore them or give them a taste of their own medicine. To Harry’s way of thinking Malfoy deserved to have a taste of his own medicine. Just yesterday, he had boasted in the Great Hall about how he wasn’t afraid of monsters or ghosts.
We’ll see about that, the ghostly boy thought. By the time I’m done, he’ll be plenty scared of ghosts. After all, I am a kind of poltergeist now, and poltergeists live to scare kids, especially the naughty kind, so . . .
Directly across from Draco’s four poster was a medium sized mirror beneath which was a small chair and a table that held a brush, comb, and a bottle of some kind of hair gel.
Perfect! Harry thought wickedly, and slipped into the mirror.
He conjured a glowing blue light with a thought, just enough to light up the mirror’s surface, then he stuck his face almost through it and began to emit loud groaning and moaning noises. The mirror caused his voice to sound hollow and spooky and he started to howl.
“Get me out! Please! Get me out!”
Draco stirred, as did the rest of the first year dorm.
Harry howled like a wolf, causing Draco to sit bolt upright, his eyes huge in his pale face.
“Ahh! The mirror’s come alive!” he cried, wrapping his arms about himself.
Harry looked directly at him and screeched, “It’s so dark in here! Let me out! Or else!” He made his eyes glow red and his mouth seem full of fangs.
“G-go away!” Draco shook like a mouse faced with a cat.
“Do you stutter?” mocked Harry. “P-poor little b-baby! Do you want your mummy?”
“Shut up! Just shut up!” Draco was trembling.
“How rude! Such disrespect! I think you need a lesson in manners.” Harry suddenly came out of the mirror, still wearing his scary face, and lunged right at Draco, fangs bared. “BOO!”
“Ahhh-ahhh! No!” screamed the petrified Slytherin, he tried to pull away, but ended up crashing into the wall.
“Aww! Did the itty bitty baby bump his head? Boo-hoo!” Harry teased, pretending to cry. He stuck out his tongue, making it long and coated with slime. He swiped it along Draco’s cheek. “Mwahahaha! You’ve been slimed!”
“Ewww! Get it off!” Draco sobbed, then tried to jump out of bed, but the sheets tangled about his feet and he fell flat on the floor.
By then several of his Housemates were awake and goggling at the strange ghost. A few were sniggering at the sight of Draco, who always gave himself airs, sprawled on the floor and trying to scramble under the bed.
Quick as a wink, Harry slid under the bed and cried, “Look, Mum, there really are monsters under the bed! Whoo-hoo!”
Draco screamed and backed up so fast he bumped into Crabbe’s bed. “Leave me alone! Go haunt someone else, you bloody ghost!”
Harry roared suddenly, “You better not shout!”
Draco shook and gulped. His eyes swam with tears, much to his embarrassment.
“Better not cry!” Harry shook a finger at him. “Better not pout.”
“Why?” asked Goyle, scratching his head.
“I’m telling you why,” Harry replied in a singsong chant. “Because I, Evil Knieval, have come to town!” He gave a scornful scary laugh from deep in his throat. Then he silently thanked God that no Slytherin firstie was a Muggleborn.
There was a collective gasp from all the young wizards.
Draco sniveled, “You better leave, or else my father will banish you back to hell!”
“You don’t frighten me, boy!” Harry growled, pretending he was Uncle Vernon, since Vernon was the scariest man he knew. “You’re nothing but a spineless, sniveling, bed-wetting—COWARD!”
Then Harry made a loud thunderclap sound right behind the quivering Malfoy and spit cold water at him, drenching his pajamas. “Better behave, Mlalfoy! Or else . . . I’ll be back!”
Slowly Harry began to fade, singing softly, in a creepy high-pitched voice, “One, two, Evil’s coming for you . . . three, four, better lock the door . . . five, six, grab your crucifix . . .seven, eight, better stay up late . . . nine, ten, never sleep again . . .” recalling the theme song from Nightmare on Elm Street.
All at once, he vanished from sight, though the last notes of the song lingered, making the small wizards shiver and Draco start bawling loudly.
Which brought Prefect Flint down to investigate. “What in hell is goin’ on in here?” he demanded. “It’s the middle of the night, for Merlin’s sake! Somebody had better be dyin’, is all I can say!” He glared around the room, and then strode over to Malfoy. “Hey! What’s wrong with you, Malfoy?”
“There w-was a ghost in my mirror!” Draco cried, pointing to the mirror on the wall.
“A ghost? You’re bawling over a ghost?” Flint demanded. “You dunderhead, ghosts can’t hurt you!”
“Y-yes, it can! It said . . . it was coming for me!”
Flint rolled his eyes. “Merlin’s hairy arse! Quit bein’ a crybaby, Malfoy!” He gave the other boy a look of utter disgust. “What a disgrace!”
Harry drifted away, his revenge complete. By tomorrow it would be all over school, how Malfoy was a crybaby afraid of ghosts and things that went bump in the night.
He slipped up through the ceiling and ended up in the Entrance Hall, where he looked at the big clock in the corner. It read 12:30 AM. He still had many more hours till dawn.
He amused himself by making the sound of chains rattling beside the library, making Filch jump and swear.
“Peeves! You wretch! Quit making that racket!” Filch bellowed. “People are trying to sleep!”
Harry swooped about the grizzled caretaker, crying, “Oh, Filchie! Where am I? Here I am!”
Filch whirled, shaking his fist.
Harry ducked, making doors slam and the stairs creak. “Over here!”
Filch spun about like a top, trying to locate him.
But Harry kept fading in and out, driving the Squib crazy.
“What’s the matter, Filchie? Cat got your tongue?”
Maniacal laughter erupted from all over, and Filch shouted, “Peeves, you bloody menace! I’m calling the Bloody Baron!”
Harry giggled and skipped down the corridor, singing, “You sound barking mad! Get it? They’re coming to take you away, haha. They’re coming to take you away---heehee, haha, to the funny farm—heehee, haha, hoho . . .!”
He glanced back to see Filch turn red, not looking ahead to where he was going, and then he banged into something solid, or at least it felt solid.
“Huh?” Harry whirled about, totally baffled.
And his eyes met the stern visage of the Slytherin House ghost, known as the Bloody Baron, because he had a bloody hole in his chest where his heart used to be. “Uh, hi, Mr. Baron, sir!”
The Baron glared down at him. “What do you mean, Peeves, causing such a damn racket?” Then his eyes narrowed and he said, “Wait a minute! You’re not Peeves!”
Harry gave him his most winning smile. “No.”
“Where’s Peeves? And how did you get in here?”
“I live here. Peeves took the night off.”
The Baron scowled. “What do you mean, he took the night off? He’s a poltergeist, he doesn’t need a night off.”
Harry shrugged. “That’s not what he told me.”
The Baron put his hands on his hips. “Who are you? One of the recently departed? Funny, but I didn’t know a student died recently.”
“Uh, well, you see . . . I’m not exactly dead, sir . . .” Harry began.
“Don’t play games with me, boy! Not exactly dead! What nonsense, sirrah! Either you are or you aren’t, there’s no inbetween.”
“You don’t understand—”
“Gracious me!” exclaimed a new voice, as the Fat Friar appeared. “Why it’s one of my House! Harry Potter, tell me you’re not dead!”
“Harry Potter?” the Baron peered at him. “Merlin’s bloody wounds! It really is you! When did you die?”
“For the last time—I’m not dead!” Harry cried. “Peeves and I switched places for awhile, that’s all.”
“Switched places? How did you manage to do that?” the Friar asked.
“I don’t know. He did it. I just took his hand and agreed to let him trade places with me for twelve hours.” Harry admitted.
“You what? Have you gone insane?” the Baron sputtered.
“No. I just, well, I felt sorry for him . . .” Harry explained what Peeves had said to him.
The Baron hit himself in the forehead. “You little fool! Don’t you know better than to trust Peeves? He’s a scoundrel of the first order, he never keeps his promises. Did you make him swear on his honor?”
“No . . . not exactly . . .”
“Oh dear!” groaned the Friar. “I’m afraid the Baron’s right, Mr. Potter. Peeves is . . . well . . . he’s Peeves . . . I’m afraid you made a bad bargain.”
“A very bad bargain,” the Baron tutted. “Peeves has been trying for decades to leave the castle and now you’ve gone and done it—given him free reign to go wherever he likes.”
“Only for twelve hours,” Harry argued.
“Ha! Do you think Peeves will honor his agreement? Not on your life! He’s never kept to an agreement in his life . . . or his death either. You’re in serious trouble, young man.”
“You’re wrong. Peeves will come back,” Harry insisted, feeling a cold icy dread creep up his spine. The Baron had to be wrong. Peeves would return. He wouldn’t leave Harry stranded as a ghost. They had an agreement.
The Baron snorted. “Sure he will. As sure as the sun rising in west. Don’t you know better than to make a deal with a lying little thief? Peeves only cares about one thing, Potter, and it’s not students.”
“Wait and see,” Harry said, sounding a lot more confident than he felt.
“Oh, you’ll be waiting, all right. For an eternity,” chuckled the other ghost. “Hufflepuffs! Always thinking with your heart, never your head!” Then he vanished.
Harry looked at the Fat Friar uneasily. “Is he right?”
“Ah . . . I can’t say. Peeves has always been unpredictable, I’m afraid.” The Friar sighed. “Come along. As long as you’re one of us, you can meet the Headless Hunt.”
He beckoned to Harry. “Follow me.”
In mere minutes, Harry was shaking hands with the Hunt Master. “Pleased to meet you, sir.”
“Likewise,” said the Hunt Master. Like all the members of the hunt, he carried his severed head beneath his arm.
Harry gazed about, they were in the Great Hall, and the hunt members milled about, mounted on spectral steeds whose bodies glowed with eldritch green and blue fire and their eyes burned with ethereal flames. Several phantom hounds scampered about, ghostly white with blazing green or red eyes and long red tongues. A cold chill emanated from them all.
Harry noticed that all the steeds but one bore riders. The lone horse, a mare, stamped a hoof and tossed her head. “Why doesn’t she have a rider?”
The Hunt Master sighed. “Because her rider recently fulfilled his vow and has gone to his reward. He left Fantomé behind and she has been miserable ever since. She refuses to let any of my foot mount her.”
Harry looked at the proud mare and felt sorry for her. He walked over and held out his hand.
Fantomé lowered her head and sniffed him.
“Hey, girl. Don’t be sad. Someday you’ll see your rider again.”
She tossed her head.
Harry looked over at the Hunt Master. “What if I tried to ride her?”
The Hunt Master laughed. “You can’t be serious! Fantomé will never allow it! A mere snip like you?”
“What if she does?”
“Boy, if she lets you ride her, you can join my hunt for tonight.”
“All right.” Harry turned back to the mare. He gently stroked her. “May I ride you? Just once?”
Slowly, the mare bobbed her head, stamping her hooves. They produced an eerie echo. Her burning eyes seemed to soften.
Harry scratched behind her ears. He ignored the mocking voice in the back of his head that sneered he didn’t know the first thing about riding a horse, only a broom. But somehow that didn’t matter. Tonight was full of magic and anything was possible. He set a hand upon her shoulder.
The next thing he knew, he was atop Fantomé’s back, straddling the saddle as if he’d been born on horseback. The mare turned a circle, tossing her magnificent head. Her mane whispered across Harry’s hands as he picked up the reins.
The Hunt Master looked flummoxed. “Blessed Brunhilda! I don’t believe my eyes! She let you ride her.”
Harry smiled. “Does that mean you’ll let me ride with you?”
“A bargain’s a bargain,” said the leader. Then he turned his horse’s head about. “Release the hounds!” he barked.
The dogs began baying and raced towards the double doors, the hunt hot on their heels.
Harry barely tapped Fantomé before the mare gathered herself and followed, leaping forward with the speed of an antelope. As the hunt streamed through the doors, Harry concentrated on enjoying himself, not wanting to think about if the Baron and the Friar were right about Peeves. He prayed they were wrong.
Spinner’s End, 7AM:
Severus woke sweating and gasping, his heart thundering like a runaway locomotive in his chest. He quickly flicked on the lamp beside his bed. Light flooded the room. He forced himself to calm down, even though the awful dream still lingered.
He had seen Harry, his beloved godson, riding away with the ghostly Headless Hunt. He had a premonition that all was not right with his godson over at Hogwarts. Severus had learned long ago to trust both his instincts and his visions, for he was a Seer of no small distinction. Right then, his instincts were urging him to go and find Harry. Harry was in danger, perhaps near to dying.
The image flashed through the Unspeakable’s mind again, and Severus shuddered. Then he waved his wand and his clothes flowed onto him. Once he was dressed, he went to wake up Tobias and tell him about the vision he had had.
“You’re certain it was one of those, Sev?” Tobias queried sleepily.
“What are you going to do about it?”
“I’m going to Hogwarts,” answered his son firmly.
“Now,” answered Severus, then he Apparated away to the wrought iron gates leading to the school.
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