A/N: Happy Birthday, Gred and Forge! This story and its partner were the PhoenixSong April Fool's 2006 Joke. In addition to the stories (Part I was published on 1 April, Part II on 2 April), the banner and site ship were changed to the good ship Ghostsnog - Harry and Myrtle. We hope our members and guests enjoyed the fun as much as we did while we were planning and executing it. Thank you for your continued support to PhoenixSong and happy reading!
~The Admins of PhoenixSong.net
Harry looked around at the Great Hall, his brow furrowed with confusion. It was devoid of people and looked a little less battered than when he last saw it. How had it come to be cleaned up so quickly? Raising his eyes to the House banners, he noticed that they were new. Even the Gryffindor banner, which he'd last seen alight after Voldemort torched it in spite, was pristine.
Striding to the door, he reached out his hand to push it open and… his hand went through. Frowning, he looked down at his hand, before trying once more to open the door. Again, his hand went through the wood, and he waved it around a bit to see if he hit anything. He tried kicking at it with his foot, and nearly fell over as it failed to connect with anything solid.
Closing his eyes, he walked forward. Apart from a slightly tingling feeling, his flesh did the seemingly impossible: passed through the solid door. Opening his eyes, he turned around and looked in puzzlement at the closed door. How had he done that?
Actually, now he thought about it, how had he come to be at Hogwarts at all?
He began to wander the halls, vaguely trying to recall the events of where he'd last been, and with whom. But the details were fuzzy, and somehow he couldn't quite get his brain to care. He was at Hogwarts, and Hogwarts was home; that was all he should care about. Besides, he had plenty of memories here. What did it matter about a few recent ones?
He grinned as he passed the small area of swamp in the hallway from when Fred and George had flamboyantly left school. He had a feeling he should be sad when thinking about them, but couldn't quite think of the reason. All he knew was that some of his favorite memories involved the Weasley twins and their pranks.
After peering inside various open doors and into empty rooms, he lingered around outside the closed door leading to the Transfiguration classroom, nostalgically remembering when he and Ron had been late for class on their first day. He was about to make his way up to Gryffindor tower, when the classroom door suddenly opened and a stream of students came out.
"Three feet of parchment by tomorrow! The old lady is nuts if she thinks we're going to be able to write anywhere near that amount!" exclaimed one student, obviously a Gryffindor by the looks of the badge on his robes. Strangely, Harry didn't recognize the student at all, nor any of the others making their way along the hallway or stopping for a chat while shoelaces were tied, and books were rearranged in bags.
"Excuse me," he said. "Could you tell me–"
He broke off, realizing not a single person was taking any notice of him.
"Erm, hello?" he tried again, and again met with no response.
"Oi!" Harry stepped in front of a pair of students, trying to get their attention. Surely they couldn't ignore them if he was right in front of them. To Harry's great shock, the couple walked right through him.
Harry came to the sudden realization that something was wrong. He had a very real fear that he might be….
In a fluster he took off at a run, looking for a mirror, any mirror. As he came to a corner, he skidded a bit trying to get around it and accidentally fell through the wall. "Argh!" yelled Harry, before he realized that the wall hadn't hurt.
He looked around and found that by sheer good luck, he'd fallen into a bathroom. Spying a mirror on the wall above the basins, he headed over for a look at himself, shivering a little at the thought of what he might see.
Several words came to mind as his mouth dropped open. Insubstantial. Semi-see-through. Misty. And, finally… Ghost.
Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, was Dead.
He frowned. Now he thought about it, he could sort of remember lying down and hearing someone crying. The touch of tears falling on his face, and long red hair falling across his cheek. The smell of blood and sweat. For some reason, he had a feeling that might have been Ron's little sister, Ginny, crying. But memories of Ginny were insubstantial, almost like himself. A general feeling of happiness trickled through him at the thought of her, and that made him realize once more that he was happy; he was happy to be at Hogwarts. He didn't want to focus on anything that made him sad, or remember bad times.
"Harry!" exclaimed a voice behind him. "You've come to see me!"
He spun around, and saw Moaning Myrtle smiling widely down at him from her perch above the second stall on the right. "Oops," he said, taking more notice of the room he was in and recognizing the basin next to him as the one that lead to…somewhere that he couldn't quite remember but didn't quite seem important enough to worry about, "I didn't realize this was a girls' bathroom. Sorry!"
Myrtle's eyes welled with tears. "You mean you didn't come to see me after all?" she wailed.
"Erm… well, seeing you is the icing on the cake, Myrtle!" he exclaimed. "I was just making sure I looked my best before going to find you, but didn't realize I'd actually come into your bathroom."
The tears vanished from Myrtle's eyes immediately, and her ghostly form lit up with the brightness of the full moon. "So, you've come to share my toilet?"
"I…uh… haven't decided on my long-term plans, yet," fudged Harry. "I only just found out I'm …er…dead."
Myrtle floated down from the stall. "So, how did you die?" she asked with relish.
Harry bit his lip. "It's strange, but I don't really remember," he said. "Whenever I try to think of something like that, my mind skips straight to how happy I am to be here at Hogwarts." He smiled and felt another wave of happiness come upon him. "I feel like I'm home."
"Sometimes it's like that," Myrtle nodded her head wisely. "You focus on what you wanted most in life. I wanted to get back at that horrid Olive Hornby," Myrtle's eyes became gleeful, "and I did – until she complained to the Ministry about me."
"So…" said Harry thoughtfully, "what I wanted most when I died was to have a home?"
"Maybe. Or perhaps you wanted something that you could only get at Hogwarts." Myrtle smiled flirtatiously. "Maybe you wanted to be with me."
Harry just smiled noncommittally before changing the subject, "Say, how do you float like that? It looks even more fun that flying on a broomstick! And what else can you do?"
"Oh, being a ghost is wonderful fun. Except when people throw things at you down your toilet." Myrtle's ghostly form seemed to increase in size as her anger raged, and she zoomed around the bathroom plunging head first down one toilet, and then appearing out of another moments later.
Several days passed, and Harry found adjusting to life as a Hogwarts ghost to be quite enjoyable. He'd had a rough patch when, unbidden, not-so-happy memories of his time at Hogwarts had begun filtering into his mind: the dealings with the Philosopher's Stone, the adventures with Aragog and the Chamber of Secrets, the Triwizard Tournament and the re-birth of Voldemort, not to mention Umbridge, and Sirius and Dumbledore's deaths. However, the happier memories would always come to comfort him and balance out the bad thoughts.
He spent time exploring the castle at length and chatting with Nearly Headless Nick and the Fat Friar (the Bloody Baron was still being standoffish, as was his nature). All the while, he began to look forward to his chats with Myrtle. They'd gone adventuring in the other toilets around the school and spent time in the Prefects bath laughing and talking for hours. It was here that Myrtle taught Harry to become visible to the living and, more importantly, how to prank.
"Most people believe Peeves is the only one who can pull pranks, but that's not the case," Myrtle said.
"Oh, I know," Harry nodded. "Nick pushed over a wardrobe when I was caught by Filch 'muddying up' the hallway once in my second year."
"Well, then, I'll show you how to do it!" Myrtle proceeded to explain that to conjure enough energy to force objects to move at will required an enormous amount of concentration. They spent the better part of the night practicing and Harry had found himself exhausted (well, as exhausted as a ghost could be) by the time they'd finished. "See? Now you've got it! Now, in order to better coordinate more complex movements, like picking up objects to toss them, or something like that, you have a solid plan in mind, from start to finish, of what you want to accomplish." Myrtle paused and looked at him from over the tops of her glasses. "You DO have a plan, don't you?"
"Yep." Harry grinned evilly. "Come over here and I'll let you in on it."
Argus Filch wandered through the hallways, his rheumy eyes constantly on alert for misbehaving students. Ever since the weather had taken a turn for the worse, he'd been watching for rule-breakers, but had caught nary a one. Evidence of their slovenly behavior was everywhere, piling up faster than he could keep up: filthy little footprints all over his freshly swept hall; sodden piles of woolen scarves lying in festering lumps in the corridors. He'd even noticed graffiti in one of the boys' toilets up on the third floor! He swore that when he finally caught up with the little house-apes responsible for these…atrocities he'd use the padlocks and irons, regardless of what McGonagall said!
He stumped along the corridor next to the third floor boys' toilet, Mrs. Norris stalking ahead of him, her bony gray tail held high, twitching with anticipation. He'd heard giggling coming from that toilet and was certain he'd have someone to clap in irons within the next few moments. He slammed the door open and was gobsmacked with shock.
Rolls of toilet paper flew around the room in a cyclonic whirl while water gushed from the toilet bowls in time with what sounded like a deranged waltz. Mrs. Norris was suddenly airborne, spinning around and yowling in terror.
Students filled the doorway, laughing and pointing at the chaos. "Silence!" Filch gibbered, spittle flying from his mouth. "SILENCE!"
Suddenly, Professor McGonagall pushed her way through the bottleneck at the bathroom door and, with a flick of her wand, froze the scene. Mrs. Norris, gray fur matted with water and now sitting atop of one of the jets from the toilet, let out a miserable yowl.
"Mr. Filch! What on earth is going on in here?" she bellowed.
"I have no idea, Headmistress," Filch croaked. "I only know that if we don't sort out who is responsible for this recent string of disobedience, I will quit!"
The students cheered.
"Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall began, "I don't quite know how to tell you this."
Ron and Hermione shared a nervous glance. The Headmistress was not likely to call them to Hogwarts for something minor. "What is it, Professor?" asked Ron. "Do you need our help with something?"
"Harry?" queried Hermione, blinking her eyes in shock. "Harry's been dead for months."
"I know," said Professor McGonagall. "But he's back."
Ron's jaw dropped. "You mean he's–"
"He's still dead, Mr. Weasley. But he's been seen recently in the company of one of Hogwarts' other spirits."
"Harry's become a ghost?" Hermione exclaimed. "But what on earth could his unfinished business be? Not only did he defeat Voldemort, but he dealt with a troll in his first year, killed a Basilisk in second year–"
"Then there was… what happened in third year again?" Ron interrupted.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I was just getting to that: Peter Pettigrew, Dementors…"
"Yes, yes," McGonagall broke in to stave off lengthy reminiscences. "I rather think Mr. Potter came back to enjoy life, as it were."
Once again, Hermione blinked rapidly, confusion deepening in her eyes. "To enjoy 'life'?"
McGonagall nodded her head. "He seems to be taking over from where Mr. Weasley's twin brothers left off." She paused, taking a moment to dab her eyes with a handkerchief. At the mention of his brothers, Ron stared stonily at the wall; they had been killed less than an hour before Harry had died, taking Voldemort with him.
"Unfortunately," Professor McGonagall continued, "his favorite target is getting more than a little annoyed, and is demanding an exorcism."
"Who?" demanded Ron, getting to his feet, righteous indignation apparent in his bearing. "Who wants to exorcise Harry, after all he did for us?"
"I'll kill him!"
"Ron!" "Mr. Weasley!" exclaimed Hermione and Professor McGonagall together.
"What we were hoping, Mr. Weasley," the Headmistress glared at Ron so that he took his seat once more, "is that you and Miss Granger could talk to him, and ask him to tone down his pranks a little. He was last seen in the vicinity of the first floor girls' toilet."
"Wait a second," Hermione said, scratching her head. "The first floor girls' toilet? But…but that'd be—"
"Myrtle's bathroom?!" Ron's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Harry is doing pranks with Moaning Myrtle?"
"Yes," nodded Professor McGonagall, her cheeks turn slightly pink, "they seem to have formed quite a relationship."
"A…relationship?" Ron looked vaguely ill.
"They appear rather happy."
"Harry's happy with Moaning Myrtle." Ron's voice sounded flat. "That's not something I'd ever have thought possible."
"Come on, Ron," Hermione took Ron's arm and pulled him gently to the door, "let's go and see Harry."
"And Myrtle," he added dully.
"Yes, Ron. And Myrtle."
"You know, I really didn't see that one coming."
"I didn't either," said Hermione they headed down the stairs. "I know you'd rather he was alive and with Ginny, but don't you just think it's wonderful that he's happy?"
Hermione paused outside the entrance to the familiar bathroom. Taking a fortifying breath, she nudged open the door and peered inside.
"—bucket of water up like this," Harry's voice came from somewhere above them as they entered the dark and musty room.
"Har–" Ron's voice cracked, so he coughed and cleared his throat. "Harry?"
"Ron!" Harry called down from the top of a cubicle doorway, where he and Myrtle had been balancing a bucket. "You're just in time to help us! I was showing her the plan for booby-trapping the Slytherin boys' dormitories. We're going to get those slimeballs good!"
"Sounds like fun, Harry."
"Ron!" Hermione barked before turning to look up at her long-lost friend. He was grinning from ear to ear, happier than she'd ever seen him before in life. While that was surprising to see, it was nothing in comparison to the transformation Myrtle had taken. Gone were the lank strands of hair and the permanently glum expression that always seemed to have been etched onto her face. She was, despite her usual pearly appearance, glowing. "Myrtle! What a surprise!"
Myrtle drifted down from her perch and frowned at her. "How can it be a surprise? You're in my toilet."
"Erm, I mean it's a…you…um…you look wonderful, Myrtle!" Hermione stammered.
"Wonderful?" Ron muttered out of the side of his mouth, which resulted in another surreptitious kick to his shin.
"Why thank you, Hermione," Myrtle giggled, taking a moment to preen her hair. "You've come to visit Harry?"
She nodded. "Professor McGonagall contacted us and said that Harry had returned to Hogwarts." She turned to face Harry, who now stood, hovering about three inches off of the floor next to Myrtle. "Harry, we've missed you so!"
Harry grinned. "I've missed you both very much, but as you can see I'm very happy here at the castle!" He looked at the walls of the bathroom. "It's home."
"What? This toilet?" Ron snapped.
"Ronald!" Hermione growled.
"No, he's right, Hermione," Harry said, passing a silvery hand across her arm. She felt a chill to her bones. "I've found a place to call home, here with Myrtle." He turned to look at Ron, seriousness in his ghostly, once-green eyes. "I know you'd rather I'd found happiness with Ginny, but it wasn't meant to be."
"But you could have gone anywhere, Harry! Why here?"
"You know why, Ron: Hogwarts has always been home to me. It's the place I've been the happiest in my life. Why shouldn't I want to continue that now that that life is over and this new one has begun?"
Hermione wondered how Ron would bully Harry out of that piece of logic. Just as she saw him open his mouth to retort, Myrtle settled in next to Harry and took his hand. Ron's teeth clicked shut as he watched his best friend squeeze his ghostly partner's hand tightly in his own. With that, Hermione nodded. "Right then. Well, if you wish to stay in your newfound home, Harry, you'll need to tone down the pranking. Filch wants Professor McGonagall to bring in an exorcist to clear the castle of the ghostly prankster."
Harry blinked. "She wouldn't."
Myrtle nodded. "She would. I've seen them do it before, Harry, and it's fairly successful." She leant over and brushed a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. "Perhaps we should save this prank for a little later?"
Hermione had to withhold a snort of laughter at the expression on Ron's face following Myrtle's gentle caress. "Yes, Myrtle, I think that would be for the best. Perhaps let the dust settle a bit and spring it on them when they least suspect it!"
"We'll give Peeves a run for his money," Harry said with a wide smile. "All right, we'll behave ourselves for a while." His smile slipped slightly as he turned to look at Ron and Hermione. "Listen, you two – thanks for coming up here. I've wanted to come to see you, but…"
"We understand, Harry," Hermione said, feeling tears begin to well in her eyes. "This is home. Can we come back to visit?"
"Yes, of course!" Myrtle said, bouncing (as well as a ghost could bounce) in place. "Anytime you like. Just bang on one of the pipes and we'll come up in a flash!"
Harry waved. "So long, you two…and Ron?"
"Yes, Harry?" Ron said, somewhat hollowly.
"Make an honest woman out of our best friend, all right, mate?"
Hermione gave a little shriek as Harry and Myrtle disappeared down the plughole one after another.
"Well," said Hermione, "at least Myrtle isn't moaning anymore."
"Oh, I'm sure she is."
Hermione frowned at Ron. "She and Harry looked so happy! What can there be to moan about?"
Ron pulled Hermione to him. "Plenty of things," he whispered into her ear. And as he kissed her, they could both hear the echoes of giggles coming from the bathroom pipes, followed by moans of pleasure.