The Sugar Quill
Author: Cassie M. (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Silent Specter of Hogwarts  Chapter: Chapter One: The First Sighting
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This piece is meant for entertainment purposes only and does not in anyway signal ownership or access to JK Rowling, her work, or the Harry Potter commercial enterprise.

Chapter One: The First Sighting

She first appeared on Halloween, a specter of unknown origin, drifting sightless down the grand staircase at the front of the castle. There was no awareness in her eyes, no rustle in the folds of her gown, no expression on her beautiful face that spoke of anything other than the stillness of death. She was deaf to the shrieks her presence elicited from the fifth year students as she crossed them in the hall.

“Who the bleeding hell was that?” Ron whispered to Harry, who could only shrug helplessly as his heart pounded in his ears. Hermione had gone as still as a wax statue beside him, her own terror etched on her face.

“We’ve never seen the likes of her before,” Seamus stated as he picked up his Herbology books off the floor.

“Is she gone?” Neville asked Parvati, who peeked through her fingers and nudged Lavender to do the same.

Recovering her senses, Hermione tutted at the group. “Silly of us really, to be frightened by a ghost at Hogwarts on any day of the year, much less on Halloween.”

“She wasn’t just any ghost, Hermione,” Lavender replied. “She was new.”

“And dead pretty too,” Seamus added. “No pun intended.”

Privately Harry was doubtful that there could be anything new in the ancient castle other than the annual addition of first year students. In his fifth year at the school, Harry and his friends had discovered more secret tunnels, ghostly residents, and nefarious characters than they cared to brag about. He could see Hermione was thinking the same thing as she caught his eye. Ron was still craning his neck around the corner in search of the beautiful lady.

“Is she gone, you think?” Ron said as the group resumed trudging toward the Gryffindor common room.

“With our luck,” Hermione replied, “no.”

The encounter had gained magnificent proportions by that evening’s Halloween Feast. The mysterious ghost was in turns vengeful, mournful, silent, and threatening… depending on who told the story. Even Harry had enjoyed recounting the tale, with a few extra details for spice, to Hagrid and Ginny. Only Neville had the sense, or lack of it, to admit that he had covered his eyes the entire time out of pure fear. The buzz of student excitement had reached such a pitch by dessert that the din in the Great Hall was beyond measure.

The house ghosts, however, were less than pleased to hear of an addition to their ranks. Ron let out a choked scream as Nearly Headless Nick popped up through the table and the Plum Pudding.

“Cor! I hate it when you do that!”

“Sorry, lads and ladies,” Nick said, not in the least bit repentant. “But as you claim to have seen this ghost…”

“We have seen her!” Parvati and Lavender cried. They succeeded in drawing the room’s attention to their table. There was a general scraping of chairs as students clattered up onto benches and table for a gawk at the conversation convening at the Gryffindor table.

“I saw the banister right through her!” Seamus added.

“Impossible,” said the Fat Friar, who had drifted to the Gryffindor table. “Every ghost in Hogwarts is registered in the English Association of Deceased But Active Beings Directory. I keep the records myself.”

“Perhaps she’s new and doesn’t know the rules,” Hermione suggested.

There was a rather prim sniff from the Grey Lady. “It is still the height of impropriety NOT to introduce yourself to the resident ghosts.”

“Newly dead, I presume,” said Slytherin’s Bloody Baron as he hovered ghoulishly over the table. “They don’t always know they’ve passed on.”

“She didn’t seem as if she was all there, you know,” Ron said with a tap to his forehead. “Perhaps she was barking mad before she died.”

The Bloody Baron sent the young man a baleful glare. “Until you have died yourself, Mr. Weasley, you will never understand the desperate void of the afterlife.”

Harry nudged Ron before he could give a tart reply, rolling his eyes toward Professor McGonagall, who was hurrying down the crowded floor and ordering wayward students back to their respective tables.

“Will some kind soul please explain what is so fascinating as to have the entire student population of Hogwarts eavesdropping?”

“These students claim to have discovered an unregistered ghost at Hogwarts, Professor,” intoned the Bloody Baron in his most ominous voice.

“We bloody well did see her,” Ron muttered.

“Nevertheless,” McGonagall said repressively. “I see no reason to create such a commotion in the Great Hall. Sir Nicholas I thought better of you!”

If Nearly Headless Nick had been able to blush, Harry was sure he would have purpled on the spot.

“I cannot allow this congregation to continue,” McGonagall said to the ghosts.

“There is still the issue of our mysterious phantom,” The Fat Friar replied. “We cannot countenance a break in the registry rules!”

McGonagall sighed in irritation. “Very well, if we must discuss it, let us adjourn to a more suitable location.” She swept past them in a glorious swish of tartan robes, leading them to the side door connecting to faculty rooms. The ghosts immediately followed, quietly chattering to themselves about the new development. Dumbledore was ushering the professors toward the meeting, even sour faced Snape, and instructing Prefects to direct students back to their own houses.

The fifth year Gryffindors gave a collective groan as McGonagall sternly waved them to join the assembling professors.

“Here we go again,” Harry muttered to Hermione and Ron. “Why can’t we get through a year without one of these scrapes?”

“What did the Baron mean ‘until you have died yourself’?” Ron said. “As if I want to know such a fool thing!”

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