"Child…. Don't… go… in there."
"Don't. Go. In. There."
"Who are you?"
"I… am… nobody."
"You're a ghost."
"I read all about ghosts in Hogwarts, a Retrospective, by Hermione Granger-Weasley. It's one of my favorite books."
"Yeah. It's a really old book, but I like it. It's not required, or anything, but I got it at Flourish and Blotts when I went to pick up my school stuff with my mum."
"With your mum…"
"Yeah, my dad died when I was really little, so I just live with my mum now. She can't do magic, but she says he could—that's how she knew I was going to be a witch. She gave me this photograph of him, and it moves, just like the portraits here. You know, Muggle photographs don't move? Not at all."
"So, if you're a ghost, when d'you die? You don't look dead… not really dead."
"I am dead."
"Well, yeah, if you're a ghost, of course you're dead. When d'you die?"
"A long… time… ago."
"Blimey. How long? Like, in the days of King Arthur? Or, or, back in the olden times, when people still didn't have cars or electric lights or anything?"
"Whoa! You must be really old. What year? I bet it was 1066… are you a Norman?"
"Nine…teen… nineteen… ninety…eight."
"Oh. Well. That's not very old, just like… um… one hundred years. Or something."
"Yeah. Well. It's 2133 now."
"Twenty one… thirty… three?"
"Uh-huh. I bet loads of stuff has changed since you died… well, loads of Muggle stuff, anyway. Wizards kind of seem to stay the same, don't they?"
"Hang on—1998? Like, the year of the Battle of Hogwarts? Did you die in the Battle of Hogwarts? Were you famous, or something? Did you know Harry Potter?"
"Potter? I knew… Potter…"
"Gosh! You know, he only died a few years ago? I heard all about it. Apparently there was this big memorial service, and I didn't go, because I was still living with my mum and she's a Muggle and everything, but my friend Ginny went—Ginny Longbottom, and she's named after her grandma, who was named after Ginny Potter, you know, the famous one? So Ginny said she went to the service and then she went to the other funeral, the one for just family, and that Ginny Potter gave a speech, and so did Hermione Granger-Weasley—you know, the one who wrote my book—and Albus Potter, and Fred Weasely, and all sorts of famous people, although a lot of them were really old. I thought it was really cool."
"Potter… Potter was there… and…"
"So, did you die during the Battle of Hogwarts, then? I read about it in Hogwarts, a Retrospective, fifty people died, and I have the list right here… are you on it? I mean, you would be, right? Everyone who died at the Battle is on the list, I mean, except the Death Eaters, so—"
"I am… not on a… list."
"I was… I was… I am not on… a list…"
"So. Were you a Death Eater then? Because the only reason I can think of for you not being on the official list was if you were a Death Eater. If you were, then that's okay. I mean, it wasn't a very nice thing to do, and I'm sort of glad you died—no offense—but it was a long time ago and I bet you're real sorry now, aren't you?"
"Yeah. Sorry. If you're sorry for what you do than it makes up for it. My mum always said that… um… to air is human, to forgive the vine… or something like that. But that means it's okay to mess up, as long as you say you're sorry."
"Then… I am sorry?"
"Well, that's okay then. As long as you're sorry. I mean, when I knocked over this vase, one time, mum was really upset, but I said I was really sorry and it was an accident, and like my nan says 'that's why we have a word for accidents, because they're different,' so if you do something bad but it's an accident and you're really sorry, then it doesn't count, right?"
"Nope. Doesn't count. Especially if you're a wizard, I mean, you can just fix stuff. That's my favorite thing about magic, being able to just do that. That's why Charms is my favorite class—I mean, I like Transfiguration too, but that's really hard, and Potions scares me a little—Professor Thrush is kind of creepy—and I'm really bad at Defense Against the Dark Arts… so I guess Care of Magical Creatures is my second favorite class, although I really like Astronomy, and History of Magic too. And Herbology is fun. Most of the time. Though Michael McLaggen is always knocking me over when I get up to get stuff. I don't like him, but Professor Vimes—that's my Head of House, Professor Vimes, she's really nice—says that maybe he only does it because he likes me. Did you like anybody when you were alive?"
"Oh. I'm sorry. That's actually really sad, because there's lots of reasons to like people, you know. Sometimes people can be really nice, even people you don't think would be nice. This one time, Ginny—that's my friend Ginny Longbottom—dropped her bag and it ripped and Joshua Zabini picked it up for her. He's this really scary Third-Year, and he's on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and everything. But he just stopped and fixed her bag and handed it to her and was really nice about it, she said."
"He was… nice, this Zabini?"
"Yeah. But I think she kind of fancies him, now, because she keeps blushing whenever she sees him at meals."
"Your friend… Ginny… does she blush… often?"
"A lot, actually. She doesn't like it, but I think it's funny."
"I would think… that it was… funny, as well."
"Yeah. So, how did you die?"
"There was… a fire."
"Gosh. During the Battle of Hogwarts? I think I remember… it said that fires broke out… um… wait, I can remember this, um… in the Ravenclaw Tower, in the Dungeons in two different places, by the Hospital Wing, and on the seventh floor corridor… and that's here. So did you die in this fire? Wasn't that a fire someone set on purpose? 'Cause I remember that Harry Potter was there, and he rescued somebody… or something like that, and only one person—oh."
"You're the one who set the fire. I remember now. The only person who died was the boy who set the fire."
"So… you did set the fire? Whoa. Um, maybe that wasn't a very smart thing to do."
"But… are you sorry?"
"Really, truly sorry?"
"Are you sure?"
"Well, do you wish you didn't do it? Not just because you died, and all, but because it was wrong to do?"
"Hey! Hey! Where'd you go? What happened? Mr. Ghost? ... That's so cool. I have to tell Ginny—with the light, and the wind, and everything. That'll be better than anything that ever happened to McLaggen, for sure! Ha!"