Seamus darted past Parvati. Crack! Where the mummy had been was a woman with floor-length black hair and a skeletal, green-tinged face Ė a banshee.
(Ch. 7 The Boggart in the Wardrobe, Prisoner of Azkaban)
ĎSeamus!í roars Professor Lupin, and I leap forward past Parvati and face the unravelling headless mummy. Iím sort of tingling with anticipation ícause I really donít have a clue what this Boggart thing is going to turn into. Itís been a while since I was afraid of something. Well, I guess that monster-of-Slytherinís-heir thing was sort of scary Ö and that mass-murderer Black is on the loose Ö and the Dementors are pretty creepy. But I canít say that Iím peeing my pants or anything.
Oh yeah Ė I remember now. Iím facing a banshee and suddenly I feel seven years old again: heart in mouth and goose-bumps all over. Sheís standing there, looking just like the picture in Irish Horror Stories for Boys, a long-past birthday present from Uncle Mick. Itís a seriously cool book, by the way. I reckon I should bring it back with me after Christmas ícause the blokes would love to hear some of those stories. Pity I wonít be able to get it for Halloweíen. Maybe I could ask Mam to owl it.
How I can even be thinking these mundane thoughts with that spine-tingling shriek going on is a mystery to me. The seven-year-old part of my brain is freaking out, wondering who is about to die. No, no oneís going to die; itís just a Boggart, just a Boggart. Deep breath, Finnigan, itís not real.
Now I just have to think of something to get rid of it. Well, it sure would be funny to have a banshee that wasnít making such a God-awful noise. I mean, thatís the whole point of a banshee, isnít it. It wails like a thousand drowning cats and then someone kicks the bucket.
Actually, Iíve always been a bit confused about that point. Is it the wail that actually kills you, or does the banshee have some sixth sense that knows when youíre about to fall off your perch, and has the decency to warn you and all your neighbours within a 100-mile radius? I guess it must be the second, otherwise all your neighbours would cark it, too.
Uncle Mickís a Muggle and he thought the horror stories were all make-believe Ė a bit of a laugh to scare his nephew. But I made the mistake of asking my cousin Fergus, a wizard on my motherís side, if banshees were real and he assured me they were. In fact he went right through the Irish Horror Stories for Boys and told me which creatures were real and which werenít. Mam never tells me stuff like that about the Wizarding world, but by the way I was freaked out by it I guess sheís wise not to.
Then Fergus told me all these tales about banshees and people dying. He swore they were true and, being seven, I believed every word Ė actually, I think I still do. I mean, I was at his house when we heard the same wailing shriek that Iím hearing now, and that very night our great-grandpa passed away. I mean, I know he was old and all, but sure it was the very same night.
Iím steeling myself to rip the voice out of this seriously freaky banshee, so I imagine my wand is a remote control and Iím about to press the mute button. I raise my wand and cry, ĎRiddikulus!í
I inwardly laugh with relief as the banshee makes a rasping noise and clutches her throat; mute as a Moke.
Come to think of it, I wonder if itís only the person who pops their clogs who can hear the banshee? If thatís the case, I think Fergus has been having me on all this time. Sneaky bugger! I bet he set up that wailing noise the night great-grandpa died. He would do something like that, too, bastard! I was seven and scared witless!
ĎSeamus, that was awful!í whispers Parvati while another student tackles the Boggart. ĎIt took you long enough to get rid of it Ė I thought Iíd go deaf.í
I look around to see the rest of the class removing hands from ears with relief. Whatís the problem? It was barely a minute, if that. Bunch of wusses.