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“What are the chances that those three are Phantom’s supposed friends?”

Remus turned to follow Sirius’ gaze, and spotted exactly who he had been expecting. The three magical teenagers – Danny, Sam, and Tucker – that they had met before.

“Pretty high, I’d wager,” he answered his friend.

“Well then!” Sirius clapped his hands together, already making his way over to where the teens were walking. “Why don’t we go ask them?”

He rolled his eyes but followed the other man. They caught up to the three teenagers fairly quickly, and the five of them came to a halt near a dense corpse of trees.

“Hey kids!” Sirius shot them a wide grin. “How would you feel about joining Hogwarts for the next year or so?”

The trio shared a few short glances, before Sam shrugged and turned to face them again. “Pretty good. But that’s a pretty random offer, Mr. Lupin.”

Remus stiffened a little, doubt creeping in. Surely these kids were the friends Phantom had referred to?

“Didn’t Phantom mention the possibility?” Sirius asked, apparently not as concerned about the possibility of being wrong as Remus was. “According to him, you were the ones who asked for magical education, after all.”

Tucker frowned. “How’d you know we were the ones Phantom referred to? There are hundreds of teens in this city.”

“Hundreds of teens, sure. But how many of those are magical and knew about our histories?” Sirius rolled his eyes. “We never told Phantom – or anyone else in this town – about our histories at Hogwarts.”

Danny pressed his hand to his face and groaned. When he slowly dragged it off again, he grumbled, “Of course. Of course it was a stupid detail like that.”

“Well, no harm done.” Remus raised his hands, hoping to placate the teen again. He seemed more agitated than the situation called for, but, well. That’s just how teens were, sometimes. “Headmaster Dumbledore would be more than happy to have you three attend Hogwarts. We have arranged a place for you to stay in Britain until the school year starts, so we can help you catch up on your studies.”

Then he realized that they didn’t even know what year the teens would join. “What age are you three? The same, I presume?”

They nodded, simultaneously. Danny was the one who answered, afterwards. “Yeah, we’re all 15.”

“So that would make them fifth years,” Sirius surmised. “So that’s four years of Hogwarts education to make up for, minus whatever you three picked up on your own.”

Now Tucker was the one who groaned. “Four years? In just one summer?”

“Don’t whine.” Sam shoved him, frowning. “We’ve been studying magical stuff for years. We can’t be behind that much, at least in the practical stuff.”

Danny ignored his two squabbling friends to focus on Remus and Sirius. His eyes were big and pleading. “Please tell me that there isn’t a thing like literature or history or math which they teach at Hogwarts?”

Sirius’ grin grew wider, and Danny visibly paled. “History of Magic is a mandatory subject, yes. Arithmancy is also a subject available, but as an elective.”

Joy,” the boy grumbled. Then he perked up a little. “What about the other subjects, then?”

Sam and Tucker stopped fighting to focus back on the conversation. Remus couldn’t blame them – this was important information.

“Well, there are seven mandatory classes that are taught to everyone up to OWL level. For the third year and above, students get to pick two more electives.” Remus glanced around to make sure the three new students were still paying attention to him. Satisfied that they were, he continued.

“Hogwarts’ classes are all magical in nature. Charms, History of Magic, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, and Astronomy.” Danny’s excited gasp made him pause. The boy blushed when he noticed everyone turning their attention to him.

“Sorry,” he said, his shoulders crawling up. “I just… really like space. And stars.”

“Good, well.” Remus clapped his hands to draw the attention back to him, saving the kid from further embarrassment. He studiously ignored Sirius’ disappointed look. “As for the electives, you get the choice between five subjects; Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Muggle Studies, and Studies of Ancient Runes. You’ll have to pick at least two of those, as well.”

“We’ll… think about which ones we want to follow, then.” Sam’s expression was determined but thoughtful. “Most of the main subjects we have some knowledge in, at least. And I bet that we won’t be too far behind in Defense and Charms.”

“You don’t think you’ll be behind due to your wands?” Sirius raised a brow, curious. “Are they well-suited to you? Do they even come from a reputable wand maker?”

Sam snorted, and Tucker grinned. “Yeah dude, they’re from Ollivanders.”

“And they’re well-kept and maintained?” It wasn’t unheard of for the kids to have wands from a British wandmaker. Ollivander was commonly considered to be one of the best – and traveling to a different continent wasn’t that much of a hassle with magic. He was more concerned if the wands were cared for – and how Phantom had gotten his wand. Had he stolen it from one of the three magical teens?

Two of the teens drew out their wands immediately, ready to show them off. Danny, however, didn’t take out his’.

Sam’s wand was black, and appeared to be quite rigid. It was also quite a bit longer than Tucker’s. “Ebony and dragon heartstring,” she explained, twisting the stick to show it off better.

Tucker’s, on the other hand, was pale brown and more flexible. He followed Sam’s example, stating his wand to be “Willow and unicorn hair”.

Then both adults turned to Danny, who fidgeted with one hand in his pocket – presumably the one he held his wand in. “I, uh. Do you really need to see my wand?”

Remus immediately grew suspicious, and apparently Sirius did too. “Yes,” the man said, gesturing for Danny’s wand. “Besides, your friends had no problem showing us their wands.”

The boy hesitated for a moment longer, then slowly drew the wand out of his pocket. It was somewhat pale, fairly flexible, and most importantly… quite familiar to both adult wizards.

Remus and Sirius shared a glance, and Sirius nodded once, silently confirming Remus’ thoughts. It was the same wand that they had seen Phantom with. But you couldn’t just share a wand, not even with family. Even if the wand was Danny’s, he wouldn’t be able to use it with much success. Not if Phantom was around.

“Isn’t that Phantom’s wand?” Sirius asked, crossing his arms.

“I, uh.” Danny rolled the wand around, twirling it between his fingers. “He’s my… dead twin?”

Remus shot him an unamused look, while Sirius looked more incredulous. “First of all, I doubt it. Second of all, that doesn’t explain the wand.”

“Yeah,” Sirius agreed, leaning closer to the boy. “Twins don’t have identical wands. And no wandmaker would make two wands identical in appearance, either. Especially not Ollivander.”

“Um.” He was still playing with the wand. It laid surprisingly comfortable in his hand – Remus wondered how often Danny carried it instead of Phantom. “Phantom… borrows my wand sometimes?”

Behind him, Sam and Tucker were visibly tensing. They were obviously aware of the truth… and the three of them intended to hide it, for some reason. What could be so bad that they felt the need to hide it? Were they so embarrassed to admit that Danny had no wand of his own?

“Danny,” Remus said, hoping to gently coax the boy into telling them the actual truth instead of these painful lies. “A wand won’t just switch between wizards like that – it needs to bond with a single person. And Phantom’s magical display was too good for it to not be his wand. Therefore, you must be the one who can’t get proper results from it.”

The boy stiffened, and Remus raised his hands placatingly. “But that’s okay! If this wand won’t work for you, you can get a new one from Ollivanders. We’ll need to visit Diagon Alley for your supplies, anyway.”

“But--” Danny protested, but Sirius held up his hand to shut the boy up.

“Why don’t you show us some magic? If you insist that this is your wand instead of Phantom’s, prove it.”

Sam and Tucker shared a silent conversation, but Danny gripped his wand and nodded. His expression was fierce – fiercely determined. “Alright. Got any requests?”

Sirius considered only for a brief moment, then suggested, “How about a Summoning Charm? Fourth year stuff, but useful enough that I assume you’re familiar with it.”

“And inconspicuous enough that no one else in the park will notice?” Danny shrugged, looking a little more relaxed. “Yeah, I’m familiar with it.”

Sam swiped the red beret that Tucker was wearing off of his head, then threw it into the woods they were standing next to. “Why don’t you summon that, Danny?”

The boy nodded, glanced around them to make sure that no one was watching, and held out his hand. Standing straight, he shouted out the necessary incantation. “Accio beret!”

And the hat in question zipped back almost immediately, allowing Danny to catch it almost effortlessly. He quirked a challenging brow at Sirius, handing the beret back to Tucker. “Satisfied?”

But that didn’t make sense. The wand couldn’t possibly work this well for both Phantom and Danny, not at the same time. But there was no other explanation, unless both boys were somehow one person. Which might be possible, with how little they knew about these ghosts, but still. Danny didn’t appear like a ghost – even if Phantom was more human than most of the other ghosts, too.

Sirius, in one quick move, grabbed the wand from Danny’s hand. He inspected it, carefully. “What is it made out of? What’s the core?”

“Uh.” Danny seemed thrown off by the sudden questioning, making a belated lunge to grab the wand back. Sirius dodged him without even looking. “Yew, with a core of, uh, Thestral tail-hair.”

Sirius froze, the wand held between two fingers. Danny looked at it as if he was considering grabbing it now that Sirius was distracted. “I’m sorry, the core is what?”

Remus felt inclined to agree with the shocked man. “Ollivander only uses three types of cores for his wands, and I know for a fact that none of those are Thestral tail-hair.”

“Uh, yeah.” Danny fidgeted again, rubbing the back of his neck. “I… got the wand as a gift from a friend.” Seeing their widening eyes as both Remus and Sirius thought of Phantom, he corrected, “A friend you don’t know. Not, uh. Not Phantom.”

A silence fell as everyone considered this. Then Sirius twirled the wand, pointed it in the direction of Tucker, and, with a grin, said, “Accio beret!”

Instead of a regular summoning, which had no visible effect bar the moving of the object, the wand spat out blue sparks. The light knocked the beret off of Tucker’s head, but otherwise didn’t move it.

“Huh.” Sirius eyed the wand in his hand. “That’s weird. It’s not supposed to do that.”

Danny swiped the wand back, pulling it away from Sirius. However, he made no effort to hide it, instead glaring at man he grabbed it from. “Yeah, wow. Maybe it doesn’t want to work for you.”

Something about this situation was off, somehow. The wand itself was certainly odd, the combination of wood and core seemingly designed with Phantom in mind, not Danny. So then why did the boy own the wand? Why could he wield it so well, if Sirius couldn’t?

What was so special about Danny? Why was he the only one in the group to have a special wand, one not from Ollivanders?

“Danny,” Remus started, keeping his voice soft and gentle. He had to coax the truth from the boy, not startle him into hiding it further. “Who gave you that wand?”

“I, um.” He glanced down at the wand, then looked back up and shrugged. “A ghost. Not one you’ll recognize, though. He prefers to stay unseen.”

Why would a ghost give a wand to a living boy? Why would he need such a special wand, anyway? Unless he was…

“Are you a ghost?” Sirius asked, blunt as ever.

The boy stiffened, and both of his friends shared concerned glances. And while he quickly put on a mask, an uncaring expression… It wasn’t enough to fool Remus or Sirius.

“No,” he said, stubbornly crossing his arms.

Sirius rolled his eyes, unimpressed. “Right, uh huh. Very convincing.”

Remus nudged his fellow wizard to shut him up, then turned to Danny. “Look, I’ll admit that we don’t know much about ghosts. Not this type of solid ghosts, at least. But your wand seems to only function in one of two hands; yours, and Phantom’s. And we already know Phantom is a ghost.”

“Okay.” Danny narrowed his eyes slightly, then shrugged. “I can see your reasoning, but you’re wrong. I’m not a ghost. I have a heartbeat – even the most human of ghosts can’t mimic those.” And he held out his hand demonstratively, so they could check.

Now Sirius nudged Remus. He rolled his eyes, but took Danny’s wrist to check the pulse. Danny’s hand was cold – Remus got the uncanny feeling that it was too cold – but otherwise seemed normal. When he laid his fingers down, the beat that greeted him was slow, but strong.

Still… Something was off. The heartbeat just a little too slow, the flesh just a little too cold. Maybe he wasn’t a ghost, but he wasn’t quite human either.

But Remus couldn’t blame the boy for hiding it. After all, he was very familiar with how the Magical World tended to react to anything less than human. Other magical creatures, werewolves, hell, some even looked down on Muggles like they were undeserving of their time.

And maybe he was just straight-up lying. Maybe ghosts like Phantom could have a heartbeat. They had no way to confirm or deny it.

He released the wrist again. Then he sighed, heavy and weary.

“Danny.” He folded his hands together, trying to look like the patient teacher he was – or used to be. “There is no point in denying this. I – we – can tell that you’re not human. Not entirely.” Seeing the boy’s widening eyes, he held up a placating hand.

“But that’s okay. We know that the Wizarding World is… less than pleasant towards non-humans. But I can assure you that we’re not that way.”

Danny stared at him, scrutinizing. His eyes went from wide to narrow again. Then, finally, he spoke – and caught Remus completely off-guard. “Because you’re a werewolf, right?”

Sirius looked over at Remus, eyes big and cautious – he hadn’t expected Danny to know. Sam and Tucker also looked at him, surprised – but not guarded. The benefits of having a non-human creature as a friend, Remus supposed.

“How’d you know?” Sirius had turned his gaze back to Danny, stern. And perhaps a tad protective. Remus appreciated the gesture.

The boy just rolled his eyes, crossing his arms. “I could ask you the same.”

“Look,” Remus held out his hands, hoping to calm both sides. “So I’m a werewolf, and you’re… a ghost? A very humanoid one?” He paused to consider this for a moment, then trucked on. “Either way, we’re not going to report you or anything. We just need to know what you are, and how it affects you and your magic, if you plan on attending Hogwarts. The Headmaster won’t mind, I promise.”

“I’m not--” Danny huffed out a breath. “I’m not a ghost, alright?”

“Then what are you?” Sirius glared at the boy. “Some sort of hybrid?”

“I--” He glanced over at his friends, who offered him helpless shrugs. Then Danny’s shoulders slumped down as he turned back to them. “Yeah. I’m… I’m a hybrid. I’m half ghost.”

Remus wasn’t entirely sure if he believed that, but… it wasn’t impossible. Like he had said earlier, there was a lot they didn’t know about ghosts. And it wasn’t unreasonable to believe that a solid ghost would attempt to procreate with a living human being, especially if they had been together before.

That it was possible, he wasn’t sure of. The mingling of ectoplasm and flesh – of these opposite energies – surely must’ve been so unlikely that it couldn’t happen?

“So which one of your parents was the ghost?” Sirius asked, intrigued. Apparently he hadn’t been caught on the perplexities of this hybridization like Remus – or he was hoping to catch Danny in a lie.

“Which one of my… oh, yuck. Neither!” Danny shivered, shooting Sirius a short glare. “Both of my parents are perfectly alive, thank you very much!”

Remus caught the hint of green in Danny’s eyes when he glared at Sirius. For just a short moment, his eyes seemed to glow green. And not just any green – a color he had seen before.

A green like Phantom’s eyes.

Just like Danny had Phantom’s wand.

“So then explain to us how you are half ghost,” Remus coaxed. “Surely you can understand how confusing such a hybridization is to us, to people only used to the intangible specters of the Wizarding World?”

Danny sighed, and when Remus met his eyes, they were as crystal blue as they had always been. So then what had he seen before?

“I… wasn’t always half-ghost,” Danny confessed. Both of his friends had crept closer, and now laid their hands on his arms. A clear attempt at comforting him. “I had an accident, about a year ago. I died – but not entirely. And since then I’ve been half-ghost.” He looked down at the hand in which he still held his wand. “I… didn’t have magic before that, either.”

It’s not really magic,” Phantom had said, before. “It’s a specialized ghost power that acts like magic.” He had copied it from other people – from his friends.

“So you are Phantom.”

He hadn’t intended to say it out loud – it had just been a thought. But the shocked expressions on the faces of Danny and his friends told him that he had said it.

Then the boy sighed again, and nodded. “Yeah,” he said, defeated. “Yeah, I’m Phantom. You got me.”

“You can’t tell anyone.” Sam pushed her way past Danny, getting right into the faces of both Sirius and Remus. “Half-ghosts like Danny are incredibly rare – and powerful. No one can know.”

Sirius stepped back, and Remus felt the need to backpedal as well. He raised his hands instead. “We won’t. Like I said, we understand. I understand. We know how the Wizarding World works.”

She eyed him a little longer, violet eyes angry. Then she nodded, once, apparently satisfied. “Good.”

“But Dumbledore--”

“No.” The three of them looked to see that Danny stared back defiantly. “No one can know. Not the Headmaster of Hogwarts, not the leader of that Order of yours. No one.”

Remus considered protesting again, but then he remembered another black-haired boy. A teenager Danny’s age who was spending his entire summer with relatives who hated him, not receiving even the slightest messages from his friends – from people he cared about.

All because of Dumbledore’s orders.

“Okay,” he said. “As you wish. No one else will know.”

Danny nodded, satisfied. Then he turned to Sirius.

“Yeah, what he said.” The man grinned, not quite as cheery as it should’ve been but not entirely faked either. “We won’t speak a word. Although I wonder how you plan on keeping up the charade while in school.”

“I’m sure that I’ll find a way.” But the tension leaked from his posture, and he stood more easily. “But that’s my problem.”

“Good, well, with that done…” Sirius wiped his hands together as if he was dusting them off. “Mission accomplished and all that. You three tell your parents… whatever you need to tell them, and we’ll get in touch with the Order to figure out transportation. Where can we find you?”

The three teens shared a quick and entirely silent conversation, spoken through several quick glances. Eventually Danny turned back to them with a sheepish expression. “My house will be easiest, probably. You’ll want to look for FentonWorks – it has a very bright sign, you can’t miss it. But if you ring the doorbell, you might want to step aside, just to be safe.”

“His dad tends to shoot an ecto-gun while opening the door,” Tucker explained, seeing the confused expressions on both their faces. “And trust me, human or not, you don’t want to be hit by one of those.”