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A Beginner’s Guide to the Afterlife

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1st September 1998 (4 months A.D. - after death )

“And now, let the feast begin!”

Taking McGonagall’s pronouncement as his cue, Harry rose through the ceiling of the kitchen, passed through meters of stone and plaster weaved together by centuries of old magic, through the floor of the Great Hall and the center of the Gryffindor dining table. There was a gratifying squeal of surprise from the students at the table as his head, torso, and legs emerged from a tub of what looked like minestrone soup.

Mmm, tomato. Harry thought he detected a hint of tart sweetness but it was more likely than not sense memory of what tomatoes tasted like.

Eek! ” yelped a Gryffindor girl who, while reaching for the soup ladle, had the misfortune of plunging her hand into his chest. A first year, by the tiny look of her. She had undoubtedly just been treated to the very unpleasant sensation of having her arm dipped in ice water.

“Sorry,” Harry said cheerfully. After a summer of empty hallways and echoing classrooms, the sight of the Great Hall once again filled with the cheer and chatter of students made him feel simultaneously gleeful and terribly nostalgic.

“What’s your name?” he asked the first-year girl.

“Morgana Greengrass,” she said shyly, opting for shepherd's pie instead of the soup.

“Greengrass …” Harry repeated. The name rang a bell. “Slytherin family, eh?”

It was then that he noticed she sat a little ways away from her fellow Gryffindors. At his words, Morgana shrank a little into herself.

“Well, Morgana, welcome to Gryffindor House!” Harry said brightly. He reached out a silvery hand to pat her shoulder, then thought better of it. “Looks like a promising batch of new Gryffindors we’ve got this year!”

“Who are you?” she asked timidly.

“You’re Harry Potter!” a smarmy-looking, brown-haired boy interjectd. “My brother Cormac’s told me about you.”

“Harry who?” someone down the table said.

“Potter. You know, the bloke who died during the war against You-Know-Who,” responded a blonde girl knowingly. Harry recognized her vaguely; she had been two years below him.

“Killed on the battlefield, ‘ats wha’ ‘appened,” interjected a sixth-year with his mouth full. He swallowed with relish as the younger kids at the table listened on interestedly. “Took a Killing Curse right to the chest from You-Know-Who, just before Neville Longbottom finished him off with the Sword of Gryffindor!”

“Neville is so dreamy,” sighed a girl who looked too young to be mooning over an adult man. “My cousin Leonora said she saw him in Diagon Alley. She even got his autograph!”

Harry drifted away from the conversation, feeling consternated. He still wasn’t used to how easily mortals ignored ghosts, like they weren’t even there. Well, he reasoned, they weren’t, not really. He was a mere wisp of a being, a faint imprint of his seventeen-year-old self preserved in eternity. It was the ultimate irony; Voldemort had been the one terrified of death, but Harry ended up escaping the afterlife in this shell of his former self.

“Hi, Harry,” said a soft, lilting voice. Harry turned towards the familiar tone with a rise in his chest.

“Luna!” He realized with a pang that he had forgotten Luna was coming back to complete her seventh year and sit her NEWTs. “It’s great to see you,” he said sincerely, zooming over to her table and ignoring the curious glances of her fellow Ravenclaws.

“Ron and Hermione told me about you coming back,” she said.

“Yeah, they were at Hogwarts during the summer, helping to rebuild after the battle,” Harry explained. If he were honest with himself, it had been a rather bleak reunion. Hermione couldn’t stop crying as soon as she saw his reanimated form. Ron had been ecstatic at first, and it had been doubly painful for Harry to see his best friend’s hope fade over the days as Ron slowly realized ghost-Harry was not the same as having his friend back. By the end of the summer, Harry started avoiding them altogether, choosing to spend more time with the castle ghosts. His friends needed to move on.

“I’m happy to see you, in any form,” Luna said serenely. “Did you know that witches and wizards used to take the presence of ghosts as a sign of good fortune, because their presence indicates locations of great magical power? Some of them refused to perform difficult spells or rituals unless there was a ghost around.”

Harry smiled. He could always count on Luna to make him feel better and it was a relief to know she hadn’t changed.

“I suppose Hogwarts will always be my home,” he sighed. “Even when I no longer want her to be, she calls me back for some reason.”

“There is always a reason,” Luna stated. “Poor Draco, on the other hand … it’s clear why he came back.”

“‘Poor Draco?’” Harry echoed incredulously. “How can you pity the git, after all you went through during the war in Malfoy Manor?”

“War brings out the best and the worst in people,” she said wisely. “Look at me now - healthy and whole. Draco on the other hand? Both he and his parents killed by the man they served, Draco coming back as a ghost seeking vengeance for his parents, only to discover that Voldemort has died at another’s hand, thus rendering his entire existence as a ghost meaningless. I imagine it must be quite dreadful for him.”

“I didn’t think of it that way …” Harry trailed off. He looked across the Great Hall at Malfoy, who sat motionless at the end of the Slytherin table next to the Bloody Baron, with the expression of someone who would rather be anywhere else than here. He looked sickly and pale, and being a ghost certainly did not help.

The few times their paths had crossed over the summer, Malfoy had not made the slightest effort to acknowledge Harry’s presence. Each time Harry had glimpsed him (once moping about in the Potions classroom, another time in Trelawney’s Divination attic), Malfoy had looked so ill and withdrawn that Harry couldn’t quite muster up the same anger and resentment he used to harbor for the other boy.

“Just my luck to be stuck with Malfoy of all people,” Harry muttered. “Why couldn’t it have been Fred Weasley, or Tonks?”

“You don’t really wish that,” said Luna.

“No, I suppose not,” Harry responded, immediately regretful.

“You should talk to him,” Luna advised. “If anyone can relate to you at this moment, it’s Draco.”

“I’ll talk to him once he starts acknowledging I exist,” Harry grumbled.

He took his leave of Luna and floated up to the enchanted ceiling to join Nearly-Headless Nick and a gaggle of other Gryffindor ghosts, who welcomed him into their fold with great ardor. The rest of the evening, however, Harry couldn’t stop looking over at Malfoy’s forlorn form and thinking about what Luna had said.

 

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24th January 1998 (8 months A.D.)

Harry had developed a routine. He figured that if he was going to haunt Hogwarts for the foreseeable future, then he might as well make himself useful. He spent the mornings wandering the corridors, pointing out directions to lost first-years (or stopping Peeves from purposefully giving the wrong way) and helping newcomers navigate the odd trick stair or disappearing doorway.

The rest of the morning he devoted to learning as much about Hogwarts as he could. He used to think that he had a good knowledge about the castle and its grounds, having been privy to such tools as the Marauder’s Map and his father’s Invisibility Cloak. Now, he realized it was delusional to think a mere student could plumb all of Hogwarts’ secrets. Last Tuesday, he wandered upon an entire wing of the school he had never seen as a student (he quickly realized this was the teachers’ lodging area, after an embarrassing run-in with a half-naked Flitwick). Just yesterday, he discovered a room with neither doors nor windows, filled with empty birdcages of various sizes. Besides the castle itself, the Hogwarts grounds also comprised the Forbidden Forest and the Great Lake, the secrets of which Harry could only begin to imagine.

Afternoons were usually taken up by meetings of the Ghost Council. These were generally a dull affair involving rehashed arguments over Peeves’ latest misbehavior, but as a new member of the ghost society, Harry felt it would be bad form not to attend. He had an ulterior motive though - Harry came to every gathering of the Ghost Council in the hopes that Malfoy would show up. The latter never did. Harry hadn’t seen the other ghost since the Welcoming Feast and, though he would eat bubotuber pus than admit it out loud, he was burning with curiosity to know what Malfoy was up to. It was almost like sixth year all over again, except now Malfoy was most likely sulking in a corner somewhere rather than cooking up nefarious schemes.

At night, Harry resumed his patrol of the castle, dutifully looking out for out-of-bed students (or in the case of favored Gryffindors, helping them sneak around the school after-hours without attracting the attention of Filch or Mrs. Norris). And then, there were Deathday Parties to be celebrated every other weekend, where he could look forward to copious amounts of rotten food and chamber music.

All in all, Harry’s ghostly life was as mildly fulfilling as could be expected.

“Wotcher, Morgana!” he ducked out of the way as the dark-haired girl barrelled around the corner, robes awry. “Late for Transfiguration? You’d better hurry, McGonagall’s quite willing to dock points from her own House, you know!”

“Had to take a detour to use the loo,” she panted. “The one on the third floor is being haunted again. That Slytherin ghost was in there … he creeps me out.”

“The Bloody Baron?”

“No, the young one. He looks around your age.”

“Malfoy?” Harry stopped short, but Morgana had disappeared into the Transfiguration classroom.

Found you at last , Harry thought. No wonder he hadn’t seen Malfoy in his roaming around the castle. He tended to keep out of girls’ bathrooms, for obvious reasons. Apparently Malfoy did not share his reservations.

Harry floated stealthily into the third floor girls’ bathroom, feeling the phantom hairs at the back of his neck prick. Here was where Moaning Myrtle had died, where the Chamber of Secrets had opened up, and where Harry had cast Sectumsempra at Malfoy without knowing its terrible effects.

He spotted the other ghost at once, glowing silvery bright in the dimness of the toilet stall he occupied. Malfoy was not alone; Moaning Myrtle was giggling from the cistern of the toilet in the next stall. She spotted Harry first, and when she did so, she zoomed out of her toilet bowl with a squeal of surprise.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding, Malfoy,” Harry called out. “Not what I expected.”

“Sod off, Potter.” Malfoy did not even bother to face him, which irked Harry to no end.

“Last I checked, this is a public space, so I can be here if I want to,” Harry said. Malfoy said nothing and continued to stare at the wall.

Myrtle flitted over. “You finally see fit to visit, now that you’re one of us, huh?” Tears were welling up in her magnified eyes. “You hardly ever visited when you were alive, not like Draco.”

“Right, because he appreciates your brilliant company,” Harry said dismissively. He was getting increasingly annoyed at Malfoy’s cold shoulder.

“Of course he does. We’re friends ,” Myrtle said in a plaintive voice.

“Frankly, torture is preferable to your company, Myrtle,” Harry said shortly. Myrtle’s lower lip trembled. She gave an ear-splitting wail and dived back into the toilet with a giant splash, the sound of her cries echoing and fading into the pipes.

“Do you have to spread your obnoxiousness everywhere you go, Potter?” Malfoy sneered.

“Only when I’m around you, it seems,” Harry muttered. He hadn’t meant to slag Myrtle off like that; he just wanted a reaction from Malfoy.

“What do you want then? Got tired of Nearly-Headless-What’s-His-Name and his freakshow friends? Haven’t they nominated you the new patron ghost of Gryffindor yet?”

Harry counted to ten in his head. “Came to find you. Been looking for you, actually.”

“What for? Looking to slice me in half again?” Malfoy laughed hollowly. “Too bad for you I’m already dead.”

“For the record, I’m sorry,” Harry said, looking down at the tiles and remembering how red Malfoy’s blood had looked streaking across them. “I didn’t know what that spell did.”

There was a pause, then Malfoy said in a low voice. “You know, I’d give anything to feel that pain again.”

Harry felt a flare of anger. “That’s a fucked up thing to say. Look, it’s not all bad being a ghost. There’s loads you can do - maintain discipline around the castle, take part in the Ghost Council, make yourself useful -”

“Useful? If you believe that then you’re more of an idiot than I thought,” Malfoy said scathingly. “We can’t bloody do shit and that’s the truth of it. Sorry to burst your happy bubble.”

“I’m in the same situation as you, Malfoy,” Harry gritted. “Just trying to help.”

“You’re dead, Potter. No need to keep playing the savior,” Malfoy said flatly.

“Fine!” Harry snapped. “Fine, enjoy your eternity with Moaning Myrtle. I’ll just leave you two to your pity party, shall I?”

“Go away then,” Malfoy dismissed. “I’m depressed enough without having to look at your ugly mug.”

“Pot, kettle,” Harry shot back. He hovered uncertainly in front of the sinks; he didn’t want to leave Malfoy alone. There was a rush in his chest that he hadn’t felt since he was alive. “That’s weak, Malfoy. Real weak. But I reckon you can’t make fun of my dead parents like you used to, since yours got themselves offed by Voldemort.”

The grief in Malfoy’s eyes when he turned to look at Harry made Harry immediately regret his words. Before he could say anything more, Malfoy whizzed right through him and out of the bathroom. Harry staggered back, the force of Malfoy’s body felt like a physical punch, too stunned to chase after the Slytherin.

 

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1st November 1999 (1 year A.D.)

“What happens if I try to leave the grounds of Hogwarts?”

“Why are ghosts able to be blown about by the wind, but are unaffected by other forces?”

“If sound is created by the compression of air, how are ghosts able to talk without physical bodies?”

“Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall raised her head with an air of exasperation. “As much as encourage young people to pursue questioning of an intellectual nature, I have a hundred papers to grade and seven lessons to plan tonight. Perhaps Professor Binns is better suited to your line of interrogation.”

Harry cornered Binns at the end of his last class.

“Professor, how much control does the Spirit Division of the Ministry of Magic have over ghost behavior?”

“Well, Prewett -” Binns rasped.

“Potter,” Harry corrected.

“Yes, Podder. The Spirit Division was formed after the Second Goblin Rebellion of 1756, when Eric the Evil recruited the spirits of goblin ancestors to hoist a coup on the Ministry of Magic …”

Thirty minutes later, Harry left Binns to his rambling, eyes glazed over. He decided to try his luck at the library.

“Madam Pince, are there any books in the library on ghosts?”

“Library property is for student use only,” she hissed, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You’re disturbing the peace of the library. Now, shoo!”

Finally, Harry tracked down Nearly-Headless Nick on the edge of the Forbidden Forest.

“Nick, what would happen to the Hogwarts ghosts if the school closed? Would we disappear? Can ghosts cease to exist?”

Nick’s head wobbled as he shook it. “Your guess is as good as mine, Harry.”

“Why doesn’t anyone know anything in this place?” Harry griped. “Aren’t you lot the least bit curious about these things?”

“Curious …?” Nick questioned, as though he has long forgotten the meaning of the word.

“Never mind,” Harry said glumly. “I’ll see you later at Sir Podmore’s eight hundredth Deathday Party.”

“Certainly, dear boy!” Nick boomed. “Perhaps you could put in a good word in for me again this year? I believe this is the year, Harry, that I will finally join the Headless Hunt!”

The living didn’t care about the dead, Harry thought, and the dead didn’t care about anything other than their petty, centuries-old concerns. There was perhaps one occupant of the castle, a certain bitter, blond ghost, that Harry could talk to, but he seemed determined not to be found. Harry thought he sometimes caught glimpses of a pointy chin, or steely eyes, but whenever he turned for a closer look Malfoy was gone and Harry was left wondering if he was starting to imagine things.

 

###

 

5th August 2001 (3 years A.D.)

Harry came back to his senses with a start. The sun had set. With a shudder, he realized he had just spent a whole day staring at a line of ants crawling across a bucket in Filch’s broom closet. Time was starting to lose all meaning. Was this the beginning of his descent into madness?

 

###

 

8th August 2001 (3 years A.D.)

“Myrtle!” His voice echoed around the empty bathroom. “I know you’re in here!”

“Harry Potter,” Myrtle squeezed out of one of the sink taps in an ooze of silvery goo. “What an unexpected surprise. I thought you found my company too abhorrent.”

Harry winced. “I’m sorry. Truly. That was mean, what I said to you. You didn’t deserve to be spoken to like that.” When she still looked sulky, he tried a different tactic. “Um, are those new glasses? They look good on you!”

Stupid , he told himself, of course she can’t change her glasses . To his surprise, Myrtle giggled.

“Alright, I forgive you,” she said, “but only if you promise to visit more often!”

“Um, yeah, of course!” Harry lied. “Hey, um, listen, you haven’t happened to have seen Mal-Draco recently, have you? It’s just that I haven’t been able to find him anywhere. Did he find a way to leave the Hogwarts grounds or …?”

“Draco’s around,” Myrtle said mysteriously.

“Oh?” Harry said, trying to think of ways to coax more information out of her. “I want to apologize to him as well, tell him I’m sorry for what I said about his parents. Could you tell him that?”

“Why don’t you tell him yourself?”

Harry shot a foot into the air in surprise when the ghost of Draco Malfoy materialized in front of his eyes.

“Merlin’s balls - you almost gave me a heart attack!” Harry cried.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows.

“Metaphorically speaking,” Harry said. He waved his arms wildly. “How did you do it? Appear just like that?”

Malfoy stared at him inscrutably for a few seconds, then sniffed, “There’s really a lot you don’t know, isn’t there?”

At Harry’s blank look, he jerked his head. “C’mon, then.”

Harry shadowed him silently out of Myrtle’s bathroom, through the Great Hall, and into an abandoned classroom in the north wing that Harry thought looked vaguely familiar.

“In here.”

“I’ve been here before,” Harry mumbled. “There used to be a mirror, right there in that corner. I came upon it in my first year but it’s gone now. Long story …”

Where the Mirror of Erised once stood was now a discarded pile of desks and chairs. Malfoy headed towards a desk at the back of the classroom where a thick scroll of parchment and a quill sat. Malfoy seated himself - hovered, really - behind the desk, then cleared his throat and intoned, “ Scrive .”

The quill twitched, then jumped to life, tip poised just above the parchment.

“‘ My name is Draco Malfoy ,’” said Malfoy.

My name is Drago Malloy, the quill scratched out with a flourish.

“Spelling still needs some calibration,” Malfoy muttered. “ Finite .”

The quill dropped back onto the desk, lifeless.

“Dictation Spell?” Harry raised his brows, impressed despite himself.

“Self-Inking Quill charmed with a Dictation Spell,” Malfoy explained with a curt nod. “Lovegood charmed it for me before she graduated. At first, it was something to keep me busy, give me something to do. Recently I started working on this … it's a handbook of sorts.”

Harry bent to read the title on the first page of the parchment, which hung over the side of the desk and curled onto the dusty ground. “‘ A Beginner’s Guide to the Afterlife ’ - you’re writing a book about ghosts ?”

“Why not?” Malfoy said. “We’re kind of the experts on the subject. I started working on this after realizing that there really isn’t any reliable information out there about our kind.”

“Malfoy, this is quite ingenious!” Harry exclaimed.

Malfoy looked faintly pleased at the praise. “It was what you said, really, that made me want to do this.”

“What I said?” Harry frowned.

“About making myself useful. I figured this could useful to someone. Make the transition easier.”

Harry thought about the months, perhaps years, Malfoy had spent staring at a wall in a grimy bathroom stall. He looked down at the tight lines of text. Malfoy had already filled out two whole scrolls of parchment, which poured over the edge of the desk and pooled on the dusty stone ground.

“Can I read it?” he asked hesitantly.

“Knock yourself out,” Malfoy shrugged. “Here - this is the chapter I’m working on right now. It’s about the ways in which ghosts can effect change in the physical world.”

Interest piqued, Harry read the last two paragraphs Malfoy had written.

‘... In their paranormal state, ghosts have very limited physical influence. They can pass through objects and living being without damaging themselves or harming the object or living being. However it is well documented that ghosts can create disturbances in air, water and fire. This provides explanation to some observable ghost phenomena, such as why ghosts are able to speak and be heard, and why they sometimes appear to turn flames blue.

One little known ability is that ghosts can alter their outward appearance to a limited extent. Since their three-dimensional appearances are manifestations of magical energy, this energy can be harnessed to manipulate appearance, such as appearing or disappearing from human sight. True changes to physical appearance, however, is restricted since that form of magic falls within the realm of Transfiguration and requires a wand to draw on a much deeper reservoir of magical energy than what ghosts have access to.

“So that’s how you’ve been able to make yourself scarce all this time!” Harry blurted out. As he watched, Malfoy turned paler and paler until all Harry could perceive was a gentle shimmer in the air.

“I have to admit it was highly amusing, seeing you trying to find me when I was in the same room the whole time,” Malfoy snickered. “Never knew you were so obsessed with me, Potter.”

“Not obsessed, just curious,” Harry contradicted, an argent tinge to his cheeks. Reaching out his hand to where Malfoy had been floating, he felt the disturbance in the air where Malfoy hovered, unseen. “How’re you doing it?”

There was a shimmer and Malfoy reappeared, looking smug. “We’re just imprints of magic left in the mortal world, as such there are no atoms holding our bodies together. I figured out that you can shift and redirect your magical signature. Peeves was really the one who keyed me on to this, the way he would sometimes sneak up invisible on students to scare them.”

“So it’s like ... wandless magic?” Harry asked, looking down at his outstretched hands, which were translucent but very visible.

Malfoy waggled his fingers. “Sort of. Go on, give it a try.”

Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on - manipulating his magical signature or whatever waffle Malfoy had said. When he reopened his eyes and looked down, he was glowing bright red.

Malfoy let out a chuckle, looking tickled. “That’s new!” He darted over to his quill and parchment, ready to take notes.

Determined not to let Malfoy get one up on him, Harry frowned and focused again. This time, he turned purple and his trousers disappeared.

“Oh for -” Harry hurriedly willed back his errant clothes, except when they reappeared he found himself wearing what looked like frilly women’s bloomers.

“Keep - keep going!” Malfoy’s shoulders were now quivering with suppressed laughter.

“You’re a terrible teacher,” Harry pouted.

“How else will you learn? Now, again!” Malfoy commanded, and Harry went along with it, because this was vastly more interesting than patrolling the hallways, and because Malfoy looked happier than Harry ever remembered.

 

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21st June 2005 (7 years A.D.)

Harry wasn’t used to having visitors. There had been a few in the first year after his death: classmates, the Weasley clan, members of the Order. Neville came by once, on the five year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, with his fiancee Hannah Abbot. He had been awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class, and was on track to become the top graduate of the Auror program. It had been hard for Harry not to feel the crush of self-pity; it was so easy to imagine himself in Neville’s position, in some parallel universe. Even Malfoy had sensed his foul mood and restrained himself from dishing his usual taunts.

Gradually the trickle of visitors stopped, to Harry’s secret relief. It was easier this way to disengage from the world of the living and to stop dwelling on the things he could never have. So he was slightly taken aback when one of the castle ghosts informed him one morning that there were visitors waiting for him in the Great Hall.

“Ron! Hermione!” It took Harry a few seconds to remember his old friends’ names, for which he felt an immediate stab of shame.

“Hello, Harry,” they smiled at him, tentative but warm.

“You both look -” old , he was about to say, but caught himself, “- great.”

“Blimey, you haven’t changed at all!” Ron goggled, and Hermione gave him an unsubtle poke in the ribs.

“Eternal youth, it’s the undead gift that keeps on giving,” said Harry with forced levity. “How’s, um, work?” He realized that he had no idea what work Ron and Hermione did exactly.

“Ron’s just finished the Auror program and will be starting field work next week. He took a year longer than usual to graduate, of course ...” Hermione said with a fond look at her husband.

“The important thing is that I did,” Ron pointed out.

“I recently transferred to the Department of Mysteries as an Unspeakable, but I’ll be taking an extended leave soon …” Hermione trailed off.

Harry suddenly noticed that Hermione was holding herself differently.

“You’re pregnant!” Harry said in surprise.

“It was going to happen sooner or later,” she said, holding Ron’s hand.

“Congratulations!” Harry toasted, raising his brows at Ron.

“Unbelievable, isn’t it?” Ron still looked incredulous even though Hermione looked like she was about six months along already. “Amazing, that there’s a mini-me just waiting to pop out.”

“Let’s hope it’s more of a mini-Hermione than a mini-you, mate,” Harry joked.

“We’re naming it Rose for a girl, Hugo if it’s a boy,” said Ron.

“Good names,” said Harry, deeply relieved that his own name was not one of the options, as some sort of pitiful tribute or consolation.

“Ron became addicted to the telly the summer during his year off before Auror training. His favorite movie is Titanic. Hence Rose,” Hermione laughed.

“And apparently Victor Hugo is some famous Muggle author,” Ron clarified further. “I drew the line at Victor, but Hugo’s alright.”

Harry nodded and smiled, determined to be happy for his friends. It was all so mundane and normal and he would never have any of it. He swallowed the lump of self-pity in his throat and hated himself.

“How’ve you been, mate?” Ron asked. “I mean, mentally, ‘cos - you know - you can’t physically -”

He stopped when Hermione elbowed him in the ribs again.

“Good, Hogwarts keeps me busy, you know,” Harry replied vaguely. “There is quite an active ghost community here, with more than five hundred ghosts just in Gryffindor. Then there are the other Houses, and Malfoy -”

“Malfoy?” Ron scowled. “Ugh, I’ve forgotten about the ferret.”

“Nah, he’s not so bad,” said Harry. When Ron looked incredulous, he added, “I mean, he was a right git the first couple of years, but he’s really starting to mellow.”

He decided not to add that the time he spent with Malfoy was starting to become the highlight of his days. He himself was only starting to reconcile himself with that bizarre idea.

“Just your bad luck that you’re stuck with Malfoy,” Ron shook his head in sympathy. “I mean, how often do people come back as ghosts? It’s pretty rare.”

“That’s one of the things I wanted to see you about, Harry,” said Hermione, leaning closer over the table. “The Department of Mysteries has been studying Horcruxes ever since the details of Voldemort’s defeat came to light (Stop it, Ron, I can’t believe you’re still afraid of that name!) It’s all very confidential, of course -”

Hermione glanced around and lowered her voice, continuing, “You see, when Voldemort cast the Killing Curse on you seven years ago, the piece of his Horcrux that resided inside you, searching for any way to avoid death or destruction, took advantage of the fact that it was attached to a living person - you - and forced your soul to resurrect itself, but as a ghost. This is the most plausible theory I have of why you came back the way you did.”

“So Voldemort continues to haunt every aspect of my life long after he’s gone,” Harry said bitterly.

“I’m so sorry,” murmured Hermione.

Harry thought back to that arduous walk into the forest so many years ago, all three Deathly Hallows in his possession. Had he truly been the master of Death? It seemed Death had been the master of him, all along.

“No use crying over spilt potion,” Harry said bracingly. “So, little Rose, eh? I reckon I’ll see her in a few years.”

 

###

 

31st July 2008 (10 years A.D.)

Harry was bored.

Boredom was inevitable when one was a member of the eternally sentient undead, but it was especially keenly felt during summers. Summers used to be Harry’s least favorite time of year when he lived with the Dursleys, and it was no different in the afterlife. Hogwarts was in a state of lethargy. School was out and most of the professors had left on vacation. The few teachers who stayed in the castle over the holidays tended to be antisocial types who kept to their quarters. Paintings around the castle were empty, their inhabitants having abandoned their Hogwarts frames for other, more exciting locales. Mrs. Norris was behaving like a normal cat for once and was sunning herself in the courtyard rather than slinking through hallways. Even Peeves was only up to minimal mischief. Devoid of student prey, he drifted benignly over the Great Lake, pelting pebbles at its surface.

Harry decided that he had reached a new height of ennui when the highlight of his day was listening to the Fat Friar for the better part of an hour describe in exquisite detail how he ate himself to death in 1561. He wondered idly where Malfoy was. The latter was neither working on his book, nor with Moaning Myrtle. Not that Harry really cared where the other ghost was. Not that Malfoy had any obligation to report his whereabouts. Harry was mildly curious, that was all.

“Bloody Malfoy,” he fumed to himself as he prowled through Greenhouse number two. “What the hell are you up to? I swear on Merlin’s left ball sac if you’ve disappeared on me again I’ll -”

“You’ll what, Potter?” Malfoy’s supercilious voice rang out behind a large Devil’s Snare.

Harry swiveled around. “Stop sneaking up on me like that!”

“I’ll just announce my presence next time, shall I? Draco Malfoy, seeking a word with the great Potter, Boy Who Almost Lived, Quasi Saviour of the Wizarding World, Near Patron Ghost of Gryffindor House -”

“You’re insufferable. I don’t know why I talk to you.”

“Because I’m one of the new sane people around here,” Malfoy said smugly. “Also, I’m irresistable.”

“And deluded,” Harry snorted. “So to what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Got something to show you,” Malfoy jerked his head. “C’mon.”

Since he had nothing better to do, Harry followed Malfoy out onto the Quidditch pitch. Malfoy paused in the middle of the pitch, hovering a couple of meters above the grass, looking washed out in the sunlight.

“What am I looking for?” Harry asked.

“There!” Malfoy gestured skyward. Harry squinted blankly into the distance for a minute, then he saw it.

“The Snitch!” he breathed. That golden glint filled him with a thrill of longing for flying. Quidditch was one of the things he sorely missed about being alive. Slytherin House had resumed its winning streak on the pitch over the last five years and it had been bitterly hard for Harry to face Malfoy’s smugness year after year.

“I convinced Peeve to break into the Quidditch storage closet and let loose the Snitch,” Malfoy explained.

“When did Peeves start listening to you ?” Harry asked in reluctant admiration.

“Since I let him in on the dirty little secret that Filch is a Squib.”

“That’s pretty evil,” Harry admitted, feeling almost sorry for Filch.

“Stop waffling, Potter. Are we going to play or not? First to make contact with the Snitch wins.”

“Let’s play for stakes,” Harry challenged.

“I like the way you think,” Malfoy said approvingly. He thought for a second. “If I win, you have to snog Myrtle.”

Harry made a face. “You know I’ll never get rid of her if I did that.”

“I know,” Malfoy smirked, “and I can’t wait to witness the hilarity.”

“Alright then,” Harry screwed up his face and hunted for something equally horrifying. “Fine, if you lose, you have to … streak through the Great Hall starkers during the Welcome Feast!”

He expected Malfoy to refuse the humiliating wager, but instead the other ghost grinned.

“Sure you can handle that, Potter?” Malfoy purred, sounding almost … flirtatious? Before Harry had time to process that, Malfoy had zoomed off skywards.

“Hey, stop cheating!” Harry yelled, shooting off after the other ghost.

“There are no rules!” Malfoy shouted back. He was darting off towards the goal posts on the far end, leaving Harry to follow blindly. Malfoy was a mere shimmer under the bright sun; the Snitch even harder to spot. Harry caught a glimpse of gold and careened off towards it, only to discover it was a passing dragonfly. Malfoy’s laugh tinkled somewhere high above him.

“Better start practicing puckering up for Myrtle!” Malfoy taunted.

“You wish!” Harry hollered back. He decided his best tactic was to keep on Malfoy’s tail, not let the Slytherin out of his sight, and hope that the Snitch would decide to fly his way. He hurtled towards the sound of Malfoy’s voice, but overshot and barrelled straight into the other boy.

“Oomph!” Malfoy closed his arms around Harry’s middle to reorient himself. “Losing your sight in your old age? I’m not the Snitch.”

“If I’ve got you, at least you can’t get the Snitch,” Harry jeered. Then he realized his error when he found Malfoy’s body pressed up coolly against his own, his silvery lips distractingly close to Harry’s face.

“Hey, Potter,” Malfoy murmured.

“Huh?” Harry breathed.

“Look up.”

In the second it took Harry to turn his gaze, Malfoy zoomed out of his grasp and dove towards a golden speck hovering just above the ground. Cursing, Harry followed on his heels, gaining steadily on Malfoy and the Snitch.

He made a desperate grab for Malfoy’s outstretched leg, felt his fingers catch on soft material, and tugged hard. Malfoy let out a squawk, fell back, giving Harry all the leeway he needed to stretch out a ghostly hand and swipe at the golden ball. He felt the merest phantom flutter of wings beat against his palm before the Snitch darted right through his hand and disappeared once more.

“I win!” Harry cried triumphantly.

“With tactics like that, you’d have made a brilliant Slytherin,” panted Malfoy, but he didn’t look displeased.

“You’re more right than you think,” Harry responded with a grin. “No rules, remember?”

He could still feel the phantom touch of Malfoy’s hips against his and tried not to think about it. Malfoy’s cheeks looked more glowy than usual, but Harry chalked it up to the excitement of the game.

They drifted back down onto the grass. The sun was starting to set and Harry caught occasional glimpses of the Snitch darting haphazardly around the field.

“What’s going to happen to the Snitch?” he asked.

Malfoy shrugged. “It’s charmed to stay within the premises of the pitch. Whoever’s the Seeker will have some extra work cut out for them at the beginning of the year.”

“I had fun,” Harry smiled, a rare contentment settling over him. “Thanks, Malfoy.”

“Well, it’s your birthday after all,” Malfoy declared, “Happy birthday.”

That gave Harry pause. He had lost track of the days, as one tended to do when days and dates had little relevance to one’s life. He shot Malfoy a funny look. “You set this up for my birthday?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “I released the Snitch because I was bored and I wished you a happy birthday because today is your birthday. The two have nothing to do with each other.”

“Right,” replied Harry, feeling warm. “You still have to deliver on that bet though.”

 

###

 

1st September 2008 (10 years A.D.)

Harry had not expected Malfoy to keep his end of the bargain, because Malfoy was a coward and a Slytherin. He fully expected Malfoy to convenient “forget” about the wager, or talk himself out of having to complete it.

What he did not expect was for Malfoy to show up at the Welcome Feast, completely nude and cool as a cucumber. Harry realized he was ogling when Nick cleared his throat and said, “My dear boy, it’s rude to stare.”

A wave of whispering and pointing broke out among the students until even the Professors noticed. McGonagall stood up, apoplectic with rage.

“In my office. Now! You too, Mr. Potter!”

He hadn’t actually thought Malfoy would go through with the dare, Harry wanted to explain. He wondered if McGonagall was going to expel them from Hogwarts. If she could expel them.

“Explain yourself,” McGonagall hissed at Malfoy, once they were in her office. The paintings around them rustled to life with exclaims of surprise. Some of them averted their eyes; others stared with pointed interest.

“Woke up like this, Headmistress,” Malfoy lied through his teeth. “Woke up completely starkers and couldn’t do a thing about it. I couldn’t miss the Welcome Feast, however.”

“Mister Malfoy, ghosts don’t sleep ,” Headmistress McGonagall fumed.

“Are you sure? Not to question your authority, but have you been a ghost?” Harry would have admired Malfoy’s audacity if he wasn’t working his hardest to keep a poker face.

“I -” McGonagall found herself at a rare loss for words. She gathered herself to her full impressive height. “Regardless, I suggest you find a way to retrieve your clothes post-haste, or we shall need to find a way to confine your mobility within the castle. This is an educational institute, after all!”

She turned towards Harry, who turned even whiter than he already was, if that were possible. “Mr. Potter, if I find out that you are in any way involved in this, I want to express my deep disappointment. This misbehavior may have been forgivable when you were students, but not now. I expected better from both of you!”

With that, she turned with a swirl that rivalled Snape, and left them to their means.

“Well, that was eventful,” Malfoy drawled. He gave a show of stretching his arms above his head, accentuating the line of his lean body. “Happy, Potter?”

Harry tried very hard to keep his eyes above Malfoy’s chest-level. Malfoy had tiny, pebbly nipples. Harry realized he was staring at Malfoy’s nipples and quickly looked away, keeping his gaze above-neck only.

“You can put some clothes on now,” he grumbled, feeling very confused and flustered by the whole situation.

 

###

 

1st September 2016 (18 years A.D.)

The Welcoming Feast had come to an end. Harry helped the Gryffindor Prefects shepherd their sleepy students back to the Gryffindor Common Room, looking on fondly as the first-years ooh-ed and aah-ed at everything they saw, from the plush armchairs in the Common Room, to their inviting four-poster beds. On their first night, some of them will be so overcome with excitement they will stay awake through the night. Others will cry themselves to sleep out of homesickness. Eventually, all of them will come to call Hogwarts home. Harry was sure of it.

Malfoy was waiting for him outside the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room, flirting outrageously with the Fat Lady. She had become rather besotted with the Slytherin ghost ever since infamous the nude incident two years ago (as did half of the castle’s female population, whether living or dead). For a few years, Malfoy gained the reputation of being something of a Casanova, a reputation that he naturally took great delight in, and which ignited in Harry throes of irrational and violent possessiveness. After sixteen years, he and Malfoy had achieved a level of acquaintanceship that was comfortable enough to be called a friendship. Except Harry was sure friends didn’t think about each other the way he sometimes thought about Malfoy.

“Good night, Bertha!” Malfoy bid farewell to the Fat Lady as Harry emerged from behind the painting. The plump woman giggled behind her wine glass and waved stubby fingers back.

“I can’t believe you’re on first-name terms with the Fat Lady,” Harry grouched as they glided away.

“Jealous, Potter?” said Malfoy archly.

“Hardly,” Harry mumbled. Malfoy wasn’t the only reason he was moody tonight.

“Why so somber, Potter?” Malfoy observed. “Usually after the Welcoming Feast, you’re full of gossip about the new students.”

“Do you remember one of the first years sorted into Gryffindor - a girl with frizzy red hair?”

“Rose Granger-Weasley?”

“Yeah, that’s her!” Harry said, surprised that Malfoy remembered the name of an inconspicuous Gryffindor first-year.

“I do pay attention during the Sorting Ceremony, you know,” Malfoy sniffed. “And with those surnames, of course I took notice.”

“Yeah, well, that’s Ron and Hermione’s daughter. They visited when Hermione was pregnant with Rose. Now the kid’s in Hogwarts. I didn’t realize how fast time has passed,” Harry mused.

Malfoy was quiet for a minute, then said, “There was a boy who started Hogwarts last year, Brandon Flint. He’s the son of Astoria Greengrass. Astoria and I were betrothed to be married since I was twelve.”

“I never knew,” Harry said, surprised by Malfoy’s openness. “Was that something you would have wanted? Having a son? Children?”

Malfoy shrugged noncommittally. “Only insofar as to carry on the family name. Which is a pointless discussion now.”

They floated in silence back to the disused classroom that has become their hideout, each deep in thought.

“I’ve always wanted a family,” Harry admitted, feeling almost ashamed of the longing in his voice. “I know it’s a stupid thing to say, after all these years -”

“It’s not stupid,” Malfoy snapped. Harry was taken aback, but then he remembered how Malfoy’s own parents had died.

“You must miss them terribly,” he said tentatively. “At least I never knew my parents.”

“I don’t believe you’re sorry that Lucius Malfoy is dead,” Draco spat.

“Maybe not, but I am sorry that your father is,” Harry replied, stunned.

Malfoy appeared to have no rebuttal to that. He turned with a mutter. “I don’t want to talk about this.”

Despite his better judgment, Harry grabbed Malfoy’s robes. “You know, it’s okay to feel bad! You’re allowed to! Merlin, that’s why we’re ghosts, isn’t it? Because we have to spend centuries pointlessly dwelling on the things we can’t let go of.”

“Tell me, Potter - what exactly can’t you let go of? What’s keeping you of all people here in this world?” Malfoy demanded.

“I’ve got a bit of Voldemort’s soul inside me,” Harry said dully.

Malfoy stared at him.

“Well, fuck,” he replied with feeling.

“Yeah …” Harry echoed glumly.

“I suppose you’re a decent bloke for someone who’s got a bit of the soul of the most evil dark wizard that ever existed,” Malfoy pointed out.

Harry chuckled. “Is that actually a compliment?”

“You won’t get it often, so savor the moment,” Malfoy said with a hint of his usual sneer.

“All those things I did, they didn’t matter so much in the end, did they?,” Harry said wistfully. “I wish I could have, I dunno, done all the normal things. Stupid things teenagers do. Get high smoking Boomslang skin, snog in the Astronomy Tower, have sex with a girl …”

Malfoy looked like he was going to say something, then thought better of it. “Didn’t you date the Weaslette back in sixth year?”

“Yeah, but with six older brothers and overprotective parents, we never, um,  got very far,” Harry said, flushing.

Malfoy sniggered. “Poor, deprived Potter. Sacrificed his life saving the wizarding world yet died a virgin.”

“Right, I’m sure you on the other hand were engaging in nightly orgies in the Slytherin Common Room,” Harry scoffed.

“It was mighty distracting sometimes, trying to sleep while Crabbe and Goyle got it on in the next bed,” Malfoy said with a completely straight face.

“Argh! Don’t put that mental picture in my head!” Harry blanched, which made him a shade paler than usual.

“Just imagine the sound of two large slabs of meat slapping together rhythmically interspersed with the sound of squeaking bedsprings?” Malfoy continued with a expression of someone who was witnessing a horrific splinching accident. “That was the sound I fell asleep to many a night.”

“Please tell me you’re joking,” Harry moaned.

Malfoy did a little somersault in the air, doubled over in laughter. “Oh, the expression on your face, Potter! No, they knew enough to cast a Silencing Charm, at least.”

“I’m going to lose the last meal I ate eighteen years ago,” Harry complained, still unsure whether or not Malfoy was pulling his leg. “If it’s a toss-up between having to listen to Crabbe and Goyle getting off, and being a virgin, I’ll take the virginity, thanks.”

Malfoy shot him a sideways glance. “So not even a friendly hand? Late night in the Gryffindor dorms?”

Harry felt a flutter in his midsection, “No! I don’t know what shenanigans went on in the Slytherin dorms, but we, I mean …” he trailed off, embarrassed.

“I suppose with dorm mates like Weasley and Longbottom, I wouldn’t be too keen, either,” Malfoy grimaced. “Thomas, on the other hand, I wouldn’t mind a bit of fooling around with him .”

Harry’s stomach gave another flip. Lately he always got a funny, flustered feeling whenever Malfoy mentioned sex. It was times like these that he was reminded that he was still technically a teenager and a terribly inexperienced one at that.

“You … Dean …” Harry stuttered, trying and failing to get that image out of his head while Malfoy continued to look supremely bemused.

“Circe, you’re such an innocent, Potter,” Malfoy breathed, floating right up into Harry’s personal space and stopping him short. “It’s almost adorable.”

“Shut up,” Harry retorted weakly.

“You know,” Malfoy gave him a deliberately once-over, “It’s not too late.”

“T-Too late for what?” Harry’s glasses were fogging up so that Malfoy looked like a bright blur.

“To remedy the problem of your virginity,” Malfoy smirked. Then, unprovoked, he palmed Harry’s cock through the front of his trousers.

“Malfoy!” Harry squeaked. He zoomed backward out of shock and ended up shooting through the wall of the classroom and into the empty hallway. Malfoy followed, materializing out of the wall a second later, still grinning smugly.

“If that’s your reaction when anyone gets close to your dick, no wonder you died a virgin,” he smirked.

The way Malfoy drawled the word “dick” made Harry blush silver. “I’m not - it’s - give a bloke some warning next time you’re about to fondle their bits,” he stammered.

“Right, then, here’s me letting you know I’m going to unzip your fly, take out your dick, and move my hand in an up and down motion until you blow your load all over my hand. How’s that for a warning?”

“Um,” Malfoy was too close again and Harry felt lightheaded. “Ah, okay.”

“Close your eyes and don’t think too hard about it,” Malfoy cooed, reaching down between their bodies.

“Oh god,” Harry whimpered, as Malfoy rubbed him gently through his trousers, as though calming a skittish animal. In a heartbeat, Harry was hard - Merlin, he didn’t even know he could still get hard; being dead had sort of dulled his sex drive along with all other sensation. Malfoy gave a little hum of satisfaction as Harry firmed under his touch, and then he was unzipping Harry’s flies and placing his bare hand on Harry’s cock, stroking him with a confident, sure grip. Harry moaned and arched; after years of little to no physical stimulation, this was almost too much, the pleasure bowled Harry right over. Malfoy’s cheeks were bright with a flush and he was looking down in the space between their incorporeal bodies. Harry looked down as well and saw the head of his cock appear and disappear between Malfoy’s long, thin fingers. This is fucking surreal oh god I’m gonna - , he thought and came with a groan that bounced loudly off the stone walls.

Harry felt a pit of embarrassment in his stomach for coming so quickly ( Malfoy touched your dick! His mind was still screaming in a crazed loop). Malfoy was sure to make fun of him for it. When he regained enough of his senses to open his eyes, however, Malfoy had his pants open and his own cock gripped in his translucent hand. His eyes were closed as he jerked off, hard and fast, working the head of his cock where a pearly stream of precum gleamed. Harry swallowed hard, mouth dropping open. Without thinking, he reached out to place his hand on Malfoy’s thigh.

Malfoy released his grip on his cock and pierced Harry with a look that was both needy and slightly unsure. Harry needed no further invitation. He slid his hand over Malfoy’s length, feeling the way his cock throbbed and pulsed in his hand. Harry gripped him tighter and gave a few tugs the way Malfoy had done to him.

“Yes, that’s it, keep going,” Malfoy groaned, head falling back. His hips rose, fucking himself into Harry’s grip and Harry felt a flare of arousal at that uninhibited sexuality. He wondered what would happen if he put his passed his mouth over Malfoy’s dick - would he taste a hint of salty precome? Malfoy didn't last long either. His cock twitched in Harry’s hand, appeared to shimmer extra bright for an instant as it engorged with blood, then Malfoy exhaled raggedly and pumped drops of silvery semen all over Harry’s hand.

Mind racing and still weak-kneed, Harry raised his come-splattered hand to his mouth and licked cautiously. It didn’t taste of anything.

“Mmm, that was infinitely better than a wank,” Malfoy peered at him with a lazy smile. “Looks like you may have some use, after all.”

He grabbed Harry’s hand, concentrated for a second, then the silvery spots vanished. He tucked his softened penis back into his pants while Harry tried very hard not to look, and wafted back into a standing position.

“See you around, Potter. Don’t go stalking Weasley’s daughter. I know how obsessed you can get.” With a wink, he floated out, leaving Harry feeling like he’d just been run over by a herd of thestrals.

What the hell just happened? Were they going to do it again? Harry thought he very much wanted to do it again.

They did do it again, almost every night thereafter. Sometimes even during the day, Malfoy would brush up against him, then disappear behind a tapestry leaving Harry to follow. Or Harry would pull him into one of Filch’s broom closets and they would get each other off, their moans muffled by the sounds of footsteps and chatter.

 

###

 

3rd January 2018 (20 years A.D.)

The Draught of Living Death is an extremely potent sleeping potion that induces in the drinker a deathlike slumber. It has been theorized by certain Potions masters that a combined administration of the Draught of Living Death and a Reanimation Potion can achieve an Inferius-like state,” Harry read, frowning. “Professor, is this true? I’ve never heard of such a claim.”

“Who wrote that?” Slughorn glanced over at the essay Harry was helping him to grade, smiling indulgently when he saw the name at the top of the parchment. “Ah, Ms. Delphini Diggory. I should have guessed. She must have read that in Moste Potente Potions . Indeed, the suggestion has been put forth by Eldrius the Elder, but never carried out in practice, of course. I always appreciate when a student goes the extra distance to research an assignment.”

“Isn’t that Restricted Section reading?” asked Harry. “Not quite Hogwarts curriculum, is it?”

“Oh yes, I was happy to sign her permission slip for Madam Pince. It’s not an uncommon request for NEWTs level students. Brightest witch of her age, that one, reminds me of that Muggleborn friend of yours.”

“Hermione?”

“Yes, yes. It’s such a pleasure to teach young minds thirsty for knowledge. She’ll be great someday, Ms. Diggory. Minister of Magic within twenty years, I reckon. Fifteen, even! I’m surprised the Diggory family produced such extraordinary magical talent. Nothing against the Diggory’s, mind you - old Pureblood family, but as Hufflepuff as they come. You just never know where the next brilliant young witch or wizard will crop up!”

“Her interests run rather dark, though.”

Slughorn made an impatient sound. “You can’t put a damper on curiosity, my boy! All knowledge is power and how it is used.”

Harry frowned again at Delphi’s neat, cramped writing that continued the hypothetical description of potion-induced Inferi. He whispered, “ Scrive. ‘Good research, but try to keep to facts rather than speculation. Exceeds Expectations’. Finite.

Her essay was the last in the pile. Harry deactivated the quill and bid Slughorn a good night. He vowed to keep an eye out for Delphi. The conversation with Slughorn reminded him uncomfortably of another of Slughorn’s former pet students, a dark-haired boy with a brilliant but twisted mind …

Harry had been finding a lot of new ways to fill his time after learning that trick with the Dictation Charm from Malfoy. Slughorn, who still had him pegged as a Potions prodigy, had only been too happy to employ his services in grading student essays. His work finished for the night, Harry retraced the familiar route to the abandoned classroom in the North Wing, which had unofficially become his and Malfoy’s meeting place.

Malfoy seemed to be in a restless mood tonight. He hadn’t made much progress on his manuscript lately; the last page was a mess of ink blots, crossed-out words, and what looked like poor attempts at stick-figure drawings.

“Oh, good you’re here,” he said as Harry drifted in. “Thought Slughorn was going to keep you all night, waxing tales about the glory of his former students.”

“Slughorn’s alright. He even made me the first ghost member of the Slug Club,” Harry yawned. “What are you working on?”

“Data collection,” Malfoy said mysteriously.

“Like … how many Headless Huntsmen does it take to play a game of Headless polo?”

“No, it’s more … qualitative.” Malfoy had a glint in his eyes that made Harry nervous.

“Okay, you got me curious. What did you need me for?”

“Lie on the floor there. Good, like that. Now take off your clothes,” Malfoy ordered.

“Doesn’t sound like a very scientific experiment,” Harry remarked.

“Just do it,” Malfoy said bossily.

Harry hesitated. He had never been naked in front of Malfoy; all their fumbling had been over clothes and unzipped flies. Under Malfoy’s hooded gaze, he pulled off his clothes, hands shaking slightly.

Malfoy’s eyes appeared to glaze over slightly as they travelled down Harry’s naked form. Harry felt slightly self-conscious. Maybe Malfoy thought he was too skinny. Or had weird knobbly knees.

“Sorry I’m a bit pale, been dead quite a while you see,” he joked nervously. Malfoy floated over his prone form, then settled astride his hips, the edges of their bodies just barely in contact. Harry inhaled; the sensation of Malfoy against his bare skin felt different, magnified. It was still faint, like the memory of what touch feels like, but greater than anything he has experienced in his ghostly form.

“It’d be nice if you’d take yours off, too,” he suggested. Malfoy’s hands jumped to fumble at his buttons. Robes came off, follows by jumper, tie, shirt, trousers, undershirt …

“Merlin, how many layers are you wearing?” Harry griped. By the time Malfoy was fully naked, Harry was entirely hard, his dick glowing with ghostly blood, a literal beacon for attention. He naturally hadn’t forgotten what Malfoy looked like naked; the image had literally been seared into his mind given the number of times he has dwelled upon it. Seeing Malfoy unclothed now right in front of him, close enough to touch, was no less spectacular.

“Eager, are we?” Malfoy said.

“Can we just skip the experiment and get to the orgasm part? I like that part,” Harry opined.

Malfoy ignored him. “I’m going to touch you, and you’ll tell me what it feels like. Be as descriptive as possible.”

“Okay, whatever, I’ll try.” Harry liked the sound of touching. Malfoy’s eyes dropped to his lips, and then he was kissing Harry. Harry made a small sound. They had never kissed before. It was nice, he decided. He kept his eyes open to see Malfoy’s white lashes flutter against diaphanous cheekbones.

Malfoy pulled away. “How was that?”

“‘S nice. Do it again.”

Malfoy huffed. “You have to give more detail than that.” But he kissed Harry again, touching the tip of his tongue to Harry’s (which was nicer still), then moved onto his neck and chest. The phantom touches from his hands and mouth was starting to make Harry feel heady. Some places elicited more sensation than others, like the spot below his earlobe, or the divot of his throat. He told Malfoy such, and Malfoy hummed in satisfaction.

“Oh!” he gasped when Malfoy’s tongue darted across his nipple.

“Sensitive?”

“I dunno … never noticed before …” He arched up when Malfoy did the same to his other nipple, hovering off the ground.

“I’m going to suck you now,” Malfoy announced.

“Ok - Ah!” Harry choked out as Malfoy guided his cock into his mouth. It was curiously cool, but wet and tight with suction. Malfoy let him slip out halfway before taking him deeper with a gentle hum in his throat that made Harry’s toes curl.

“Good?” Malfoy’s voice was raspier than usual.

“Like a dream,” Harry groaned.

“A dream?” Malfoy tilted his head.

“Yeah, like - how when you have a really, really vivid sex dream, and - fuck, it feels so good, but like, it’s all hazy and all you know is that your balls are about to burst,” Harry babbled. “That’s what your mouth feels like.”

Malfoy pulled away and smirked. “I’ll take it as a compliment.” He started stroking Harry’s cock with his hand. “Does it feel different from my hand?” he asked, alternating between the two.

“I-I can’t really think clearly when you keep doing that,” Harry groaned.

“You’re terribly unhelpful,” Malfoy accused, then went back to sucking Harry’s cock, which suited Harry perfectly fine. He had never noticed how pretty Malfoy was, hair falling over his half-closed eyes as his lips puckered over Harry’s swollen cock. Well, he had noticed before, but it was only now that he was able to openly appreciate it.

Malfoy stroked his balls, then the crease of his hole. Harry squirmed at the intimate touch, clenching down when the tip of Malfoy’s finger slipped inside him.

“Did you just stick your finger in my arse?” he asked faintly.

“Yep,” Malfoy confirmed, eyes bright. “And I’m going to stick my cock in your arse, if that’s okay.”

Harry’s cock gave a tremendous twitch when Malfoy slipped in a second finger. “Oh - fuck - definitely okay!”

“Gods, you’re too much,” Malfoy bit his lip, eyes heated and intense as he hiked Harry’s legs over his shoulders. He paused with the tip of his cock against the crease of Harry’s arse.

“C’mon, what are you waiting for?” Harry whined, pressing up urgently.

“Usually there would be lots and lots of lube involved ...” Malfoy began uncertainly.

“It’s not like you can actually hurt me,” Harry pointed out.

“Oh, good point,” Malfoy said and, with a feral grin, then drove right into Harry with one thrust so hard they shot halfway across the room.

“Fuck!” Harry swore instinctively at the sudden onslaught of sensation. There was no pain, just a sudden fullness that knocked the breath right out of his chest. Malfoy’s cock felt massive inside him, like it suddenly took up half his body, that he had to look down to make sure Malfoy hadn’t stuck his whole arm up Harry’s arse instead.

“I can see your dick inside me,” Harry said, awed. The outline of Malfoy’s cock was faintly visible as it moved in and out of Harry. It was bizarrely arousing.

“Sex without a corporeal body is proving to have all sorts of unforeseen benefits,” Malfoy said with glee.

“Oh god, save it for your handbook and fuck me properly!” Harry snapped.

“I’ll show you properly,” Malfoy growled, and started driving into Harry with a force that propelled them across the room in fits and bursts until suddenly there was an opaque wall in front of Harry’s eyes and he realized they had floated right into the wall.

They were really going to need to practice ghost sex, he thought giddily.

“Move towards me at the same time that I move towards you,” Malfoy panted. “No, this way - hang on, we have to do it together.”

It took a bit of coordination, but Harry was a quick study and soon he learned to push back against Malfoy’s thrusts so that they didn’t accidentally drift into an occupied room. Then Malfoy gave a perfect thrust that made Harry see stars.

“Fuck - Malfoy!” he clenched down hard, and came with a giant shudder. Distantly, he heard Malfoy moan his name. When he came to, Malfoy was pulling out, leaving a silvery dribble of come to seep out of Harry’s arse.

For a while, they hung in midair, naked and clinging, neither speaking.

“I declare the experiment a roaring success,” Malfoy said finally.

“You never told me what the experiment was about,” Harry murmured.

“How to get Harry Potter naked so I can have my wicked way with him.”

Harry was too satiated to summon any indignation.

 

Excerpt from A Beginner’s Guide to the Afterlife :

‘... Witches and Wizards hold many misconceptions about ghosts. For one, it is commonly assumed that ghosts experience no physical pleasure, whether from food, sex, or the simple touch of another being. However, in certain cases ghosts have been known to experience a wide range of sexual pleasures. Reportedly, the sensations are less acute than those experienced by the living, but the observable physiological effects are unquestionably sexual in nature. Arousal can be auto-induced, or, in some cases, with the friendly assistance of another ghost. In the latter case, the amount of physical pleasure a ghost can derive from another spiritual being appears to depend on the strength of their relationship when alive. Ghosts whose mortal lives did not overlap usually have no physical impact on one another. On the other hand, ghosts who knew each other when alive, or had a powerful influence on each others’ mortal lives, anecdotally report much stronger physical connections after death.

 

###

 

31st December 2035 (37 years A.D.)

“D’you think the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady have been shagging on the sly?”

“Ugh. I doubt it, otherwise the two of them wouldn’t be so bloody bleak all the time”

“I suppose he did kill her out of unrequited love. A bit of a boner-killer, that.”

“Speaking of boner-killers, Potter, do you really want to talk about the Bloody Baron while I’ve got my dick inside your arse?”

“Oh, keep going, right there, ah - ah - oh - Draco!”

 

###

 

17th August 2049 (51 years A.D.)

The last time Harry was in the Great Lake, he had been on the verge of drowning, trying desperately to save his best friend and a little girl.

Now, with matters of life and death far beyond his concern, he could appreciate the beauty of the underwater world. Twenty meters beneath the surface, sunlight washed everything in soft shades of green. Schools of fish darted in neat formations, quite unconcerned with Harry’s ghostly presence. A stray Grindylow tried to grab Harry’s leg and, when its webbed fingers closed on water instead, it grimaced and shook its spindly fist.

“I love it here,” said Draco, the words bubbling from his mouth. “It reminds me of the Slytherin Common Room. We have these tall windows that looked out right into the Lake. I used to sit for hours by the window, hoping for a glimpse of the Giant Squid.”

Harry could see the appeal. He vaguely recalled the water as being icy cold during the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, but against his ghost skin, the water felt positively balmy. They were pulled hither and thither by the ebb and flow of the undertow and it was enough to make him feel almost corporeal.

“Let’s see if we can find any Merpeople!” Draco’s childish excitement made Harry smile. They swam through the gently undulating seaweed and into the gloomy depths of the Lake. “I’ve always wanted to learn Mermish. They have an amazingly complex social structure and history.”

“I’ve met them once,” Harry said, “During the second task of the Triwizard Tournament. Not a very friendly folk.”

“You had a wand, didn’t you?” Draco said. “Most sentient magical beings are distrustful of wands.”

They didn’t end up finding any Merpeople that day, though they did happen upon a trio of stunningly beautiful sirens who broke into haunting song at the sight of them. Upon discovering that their song appeared to have no effect, one of them, a dark-haired creature with hypnotic yellow eyes, started making grabs at Draco’s crotch.

“Honestly!” Harry seethed, swimming away while determinedly dragging away a highly amused Draco. “You’re not even into women!”

“Don’t be jealous, even magical creatures can appreciate a fine male specimen,” Draco preened.

“Yeah, well, can they do this?” Harry snapped. With a flourish, he flicked open the front of Draco’s slacks, pulled them down rather unceremoniously and swallowed Draco’s cock as far into his throat as it would go. That shut Draco up nice and proper, to Harry’s immense gratification. He closed his eyes and pursed his lips around the hardening cock in his mouth.

“Harry …” there were fingers sliding through his hair. Harry looked up to see Draco, fair hair fanned out in a halo, face slack with pleasure and gentle moans escaping his mouth in a stream of bubbles as Harry brought him to climax with his hands and mouth. Gorgeous , the word came unbidden to Harry’s mind. It was an image that would stay with him through centuries.

 

###

 

4th October 2173 (175 years A.D.)

As happened every decade or so, a lone student would seek Harry out, demanding to know the nature of death.

This time it was a third-year Ravenclaw named Elio Prowling.

“It’s my mum. She came down with the Vanishing Sickness over the summer. My dad - he’s a Muggle - he took her to all the Muggle Healers and they couldn’t cure her. They said it was something called cancer, gave her treatment that made her sicker and her hair fall out. It killed her.”

Harry felt desperately sorry for the boy.

“Someone very wise once told me that death is but the next great adventure,” he said.

“That’s stupid. Death is the end,” Elio spat.

Harry smiled sadly. “That was my reaction too at the time. The same wise man also told me that the ones you love never really die, they’ll always be a part of us.”

Elio wiped away an angry tear. “So there’s no way I can bring her back? I thought magic can do anything.”

Harry sighed. “Learning what you can do with magic - well, that’s easy. It’s learning the limits of magic that’s the hardest part.”

“Maybe she’ll come back as a ghost. Then at least I’ll be able to talk to her again!” Elio exclaimed hopefully.

Harry shook his head slowly. “Elio, the smartest witches and wizards choose not to come back in this form. And why would they? I died a hundred and seventy-five years ago. No one living has any memory of me. Death is not scary; solitude is.”

“Oh,” Elio thought for a moment, then said. “You must be terribly lonely.”

“I think I’ve been rather lucky,” Harry replied.

 

###

 

29th March 2248 (250 years A.D.)

The eighty-sixth edition of Hogwarts: A History , published in 2248, contained a number of new entries, one of which was this interesting tidbit:

Potter, Harry, and Malfoy, Draco, ghosts. Two of the newer additions to the Hogwarts ghost population, both Potter and Malfoy appeared at Hogwarts in ghost form in 1998, after dying at the hands of Lord Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts. Although the circumstances of Potter’s spiritual reanimation is not clear, it is assumed that the spirit of Malfoy returned to the mortal realm to seek vengeance on Voldemort, who had murdered both his parents on the same night. As ghosts, Potter and Malfoy share a closeness that was absent from their living selves. They are notable for being unusually amorous, having been spotted numerous times around Hogwarts in various positions of compromise.

See also: Potter, Harry, Notable students; Potter, Harry, Battle of Hogwarts; Potter, Harry, Chamber of Secrets; Potter, Harry, Triwizard Tournament; Malfoy, Draco, Notable students; Malfoy, Draco, Battle of Hogwarts

“Positions of compromise?” Harry said, cheeks bright with mortification.

“That's a polite way of saying that we're seen shagging all over the castle,” Draco said matter-of-factly.

“You seem perversely delighted by this. Why are you so happy about being hereafter known as a randy ghost?” Harry demanded.

“Better a randy ghost than a failed Death Eater. Or the Boy Who Lived But Not Really Because He Died And Joined the Undead.”

“Point taken,” Harry conceded.

Draco indicated the heavy tome of Hogwarts: A History and waggled his eyebrows. “I think this merits a celebration. What say we practice some amorous behavior right here in the library?”

“We did that last week,” Harry reminded him.

“But not in the Restricted Section,” Draco pointed out. He sidled closer and whispered coolly into Harry’s ear, “C’mon, don’t you want to fuck me up against the shelves? I’ll try so hard to keep quiet while you pump your big, Gryffindor cock up my tight arse.”

The git knew just how to push Harry’s buttons. Even as Harry knew this, he felt powerless to resist. He ushered Draco into the far shadows of the Restricted Section and fucked him slowly against a bust of Uric the Oddball, biting Draco’s neck to muffle his moans while Draco writhed on his cock in open-mouthed but silent exhalations. Gods - how was it still so good after two hundred years.. They would almost have gotten away with it, too,, if Draco hadn’t started making helpless hiccuping sounds as he got closer. That was how they were discovered by the red-faced and scandalized librarian, at which point the interruption pushed Draco right over the edge and he came all over the cracked spine of The Dark Art of Necromancy.

 

###

 

17th November 2310 (312 years A.D.)

There were eight hundred and nineteen rooms, classrooms, halls, common rooms, Quidditch lockers, libraries, broom closets, alcoves, foyers, attics, dungeons and assorted chambers at Hogwarts. Eight hundred and twenty if you counted the destroyed Room of Requirement. Harry and Draco knew this because they had shagged in every one.

 

###

 

5th May 2358 (360 years A.D.)

Students came and went. Headmasters and Headmistresses were appointed and dismissed. The rise of a dark wizard in Eastern Europe resulted in an exodus of wizarding families to the relatively safer communities of Britain and Hogwarts magically expanded an entirely new wing overnight to accommodate the increased student population. Even Muggle technology was invading the school grounds. Muggle Internet, now a staple in many wizarding families, was being lobbied by an ardent group of parents as an educational tool at Hogwarts. The old magic holding together the school didn’t take too kindly to this new-fangled Muggle technology and to this day, the wi-fi remained spotty in certain locations around the castle.

As the decades marched by, Harry found himself less and less concerned with the affairs of the living. He still patrolled the hallways at night, still knew every student by name, and still sat through the tired told Ghost’s Council meetings. As far as he was concerned, there were only two constants in his life: Draco and the unchanging nature of the Hogwarts ghost population.

That all changed the day Professor Binns was sacked. The current Headmistress, an ambitious, steely-eyed Muggleborn named Grinda Fowler, considered herself something of an educational reformer. Tired of the same outdated History of Magic curriculum being taught at Hogwarts, she hired a new History of Magic teacher and politely coerced Binns to a much delayed retirement.

To no one’s surprise, Binns wasn’t about to let something like retirement stop him from teaching. For several confusing months, Hogwarts held two History of Magic classes for each year, simply because Binns refused to stop gliding into classrooms and preaching about Goblin Rebellions and Giant Warfare, and no one could do anything about it.

Eventually, Headmistress Fowler had to request intervention from the Spirit Division of the Ministry of Magic. Old and difficult rituals were enacted that confined Binns thereafter to his quarters within Hogwarts. For a few months, Harry was appointed to keep an eye on old Binns and make sure that he did not do anything endanger either himself or the school population. There was really no need for the precaution; the old ghost quickly devolved into a catatonic state, spending the days staring at the walls of his chambers whilst muttering the dates of events long past.

After a month of paying witness to Binns’ deteriorating mental state, Harry was starting to feel a bit of the life-force within himself slip away. Draco found him one night floating immobile outside the window of the Owlery, staring unblinkingly out into the chasm of night.

“I’ve been looking all over for you,” Draco admonished. “What are you doing up here?”

“Sometimes I get terrified,” Harry confessed. “Eternity is a bloody long time.”

“You’re a Gryffindor, that word’s not in your vocabulary,” Draco joked, but he looked pale. “Binns?”

“Not good. You know when Dementors suck out a person’s soul? Binns is what I imagine is left,” Harry said with a shiver.

“Binns was always a bit cuckoo to begin with. Hardly the model of sanity, is he?”

“I remember this Muggle story I once read, I think it was from one of Dudley’s storybooks,” Harry said slowly. He did not remember much from his human life any more, and it was usually the more haunting memories that stayed. “It was about this Muggle who goes insane because his mind becomes trapped in a machine that makes him feel like an eternity has passed. I couldn’t sleep properly for days after I read that.”

“Muggles and their strange imaginations,” Draco started scornfully, but Harry didn’t hear him. The image of Binns’ hollow eyes and pointless muttering would not leave his mind’s eye.

He made a sudden grab at Draco’s robes. “Don’t let me get like that, Draco. Don’t let me end up like Binns. Promise me.”

Harry knew he was being stupid. There was nothing Draco could do. They were all resigned to their ghostly fates. Draco no longer looked scornful. For once, he was wide-eyed and solemn.

“We’re in this together, you great pillock,” Draco said with fierce fondness. “If you go mad, I go down with you and if there is one thing Malfoys are good at, it’s self-preservation.”

With that, he pulled Harry back inside the Owlery and, under the gentle hooting of birds, kissed him softly. Harry leaned into his embrace and felt the darkness lift slightly from his soul as Draco coaxed his lips open.

 

###

 

2nd May 2498 (500 years A.D.)

“Oi, watch the hair laddie!”

“Do shut up,” Harry snapped at the disembodied head tucked under his arm. Ignoring the head’s sputtering protests, he grabbed a handful of matted hair and swung the head, projectile-like, across the Quidditch pitch towards Wanda.

Wildcat Wanda (so called because she died in 2301 after a fatal attempt to mate with a wild hippogriff in her Animagus form), reached out a translucent arm to catch the head. Before she could do so, however, a third slim figure streaked between them and snatched the head deftly out of the air, eliciting a gasp from the assembled spectators.

“Slytherin snatches possession of the head in a skilled interception by Draco Malfoy. Thirty seconds remain on the clock - Is he going to score? the crowd awaits with bated breath!” The Fat Friar commentated with his usual aplomb.

“Attaboy! That’s it, show those stinking Gryffs how it’s done! Woohoo!” the head cackled maniacally as Draco sped off with it tucked tightly under his arm.

As Draco zoomed towards the goal posts, Harry and Wanda closed in on him on either side. Wanda dove for a tackle, but was blown off-target by a sudden buffet of wind. Draco, meanwhile, sailed towards the goal posts with steely determination.

“Get ‘im, Nick!” Harry yelled at their Keeper. Draco stretched out his arm, aimed, and chucked the head hard towards the goal posts. Nick pounced - he was so close - then the crowd gave a great big groan. Nick’s partially-severed head tipped off his shoulders at the most crucial second; he overbalanced and completely missed the head, which flew through the center goal, hollering a racket all the while.

“Malfoy scores, and the score is 40-50 to Slytherin! Slytherin wins!” cried the Fat Friar. As the ghost players sank back to ground level, he returned to the buffet table with gusto.

“Good game,” Draco grinned when they reached the grass and the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff teams took to the pitch. His hair was windswept and his cheeks aglow with exertion.

“I vote we replace the head for the next game,” Harry protested, “Decapitated Don tends to be - shall we say - a bit biased.”

“Sore loser, Potter?” Draco smirked. “We won, fair and square. To the winner go the spoils!”

The loser must do the winner’s bidding for a week , Harry remembered their bet with a groan. Knowing Draco, it was bound to be something sexual.

“I’m thinking after-hours in the Headmaster’s office,” Draco said speculatively and Harry buried his head in his hands. Trust Draco to develop some kind of exhibitionst kink after all these years.

“You know Snape’s never going to let me live it down,” Harry complained.

“Lighten up, he’s just a painting. Also, not the first time he’s seen your pale arse,” Draco reminded him with an appreciative grope at said arse.

“And he hasn’t let me live down the first time either.” Harry quickly shut up as the Fat Friar drifted over arm in arm with the Grey Lady. A century ago, the two of them bonded unexpectedly over crocheting, and were now inseparable.

“Headditch is really taking off,” observed the Fat Friar with a hearty chuckle. “I don’t think I’ve attended a Deathday Party this rousing since Sir Duncan’s Bi-Millennial Bash!”

“Indeed,” remarked the Grey Lady. “In fact, I heard tell from Sir Cadogan, who travels regularly between Hogwarts and his painting in Beauxbatons, that the sport has even caught on among the spirit community in France!”

“We owe you one, Friar, for convincing Headmaster Xing to allow us use of the Quidditch pitch tonight,” Harry inclined his head.

“Don’t mention it!” boomed the Fat Friar. “For the five hundredth Deathday of two of Hogwart’s most beloved ghosts? It’s nothing!”

‘Most beloved’ was a bit of an overstatement, Harry thought, but it wasn’t too far from the truth. Indeed, Harry and Draco had developed a small but ardent fan club comprising of mostly female students who followed them around the castle and wrote romantic poetry about them, all of which Harry found both endearing and creepy. Their Deathday Party had drawn as many living attendees as dead, though Harry liked to think that most of the student population had turned up to watch the game, drawn by the novelty and frenetic pace of Headditch. Draco, for one, was convinced that Headditch was going to be an international success and was already writing a gameplay manual.

“Do you want to get out of here?” he suggested in an undertone to Draco, as a gaggle of girls, some of whom he recognized as the more militant members of their fan club, approached.

“Let’s,” Draco agreed. “Oi, Peeves!”

As if on cue, Peeves started pelting partygoers, living and undead alike, with what looked like dragon dung. At another signal from Draco, the Armless Ghost Orchestra struck up a discordant melody. Under the din of squealing girls and screaming violins, Harry and Draco snuck away from the Quidditch pitch.

“I still don’t understand how you get Peeves to do stuff for you,” laughed Harry. “For God’s sake, he still calls me Potter the Rotter for all the respect I get.”

“I like to keep a few cards hidden up my sleeve,” Draco winked. “Catch me if you can!”

They zoomed, breathless with laughter, into the tallest Astronomy Tower. Students were not the only ones who held secret rendez-vous in this notorious location. Five centuries ago, terrible things had happened in this tower, but Harry and Draco had made their own pleasant memories here since then, writing their new stories over old parchment.

“Happy five hundredth Deathday,” Draco said softly. The stars reflected brightly in his pale irises. He was seventeen and ageless, foolish and wise, impossible to deal with on some days and on most others, Harry couldn’t imagine how he could go on without him. The realization struck Harry, not as a Bludger to the skull, but a gentle dawning like waking up after a deep sleep.

“I love you,” Harry said, aloud for the first time.

“I know,” Draco replied. “It only took you five hundred years to say it, but I know. I love you too.”

 

###

 

Some years later

It was a long time before anyone in the castle noticed the disappearance of the two ghosts named Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. The world of the living went on, unbothered by the comings and goings of the undead. Their student fan club dissolved as its members became caught up in relationships and classes and OWL’s. Nearly-Headless Nick remarked on Harry’s absence from the Ghost Council a few times, but gradually fell into the assumption that he was probably off gallivanting somewhere on the edge of the grounds with Malfoy, and simply lost track of time, so wrapped up in their own private world as they tended to do. Everyone knew that ghosts didn’t leave this world. It simply wasn’t done. Couldn’t be done.

Hogwarts has been home to many unsolved mysteries over the centuries, and with the passing years, the disappearance of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy was chalked up to one of these many unexplained phenomena. Draco’s manuscript was found some decades later by a teacher, stuffed away in a drawer in an abandoned classroom. Despite the many scribbles, stick-figure drawings and sometimes bombastic writing, the teacher found it a fascinating read and thought that its author, one Drago Malloy, must have been a very colorful character. The very last paragraph of this ancient scroll struck her as particularly salient:

There are many things we don't understand about the nature of ghosts. Despite this, we can take solace in the knowledge that there are more powerful forces that work in mysterious ways to give meaning to existence. Love is one of them.