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14 December 2013 @ 12:31 am
Fic: Doorways for delphipsmith  
Title: Doorways
Author: lazy_neutrino
Written for: delphipsmith
Rating: PG-13
Length : 1100 words
Character(s): House ghosts
Warnings: None
Author's Notes: Thanks to H. for the beta and a very merry Christmas to delphipsmith!

‘Well, I think that went very well.’ The Fat Friar leaned back in his chair and considered the glass on the table before him. The wine was a deep, rich red, a red that whispered to him of promises to come. Almost – he licked his lips around the word – seductive. A half-remembered quote came to him. I have looked upon the wine when it is red. Indeed.

Helena tapped a dainty slipper on the floor. ‘A toast?’ She tilted her head to one side and raised her glass. ‘To friendship.’

A slight contretemps as Nick copied Helena’s tilted head and overshot. The Fat Friar stared politely into his lifted glass, watching the wine sparkle in the candlelight, while Nick fumbled with the lace collar of his best jacket. But not before catching the Bloody Baron’s eye. The Baron’s face was expressionless but the Fat Friar knew what his companion was thinking. Fellow’s drunk too much. No class.

No head for drink, one might say. The Fat Friar suppressed a smile.

It was hard to blame Nick, though. It wasn’t as if any of them had much opportunity to overdo the wine.

Helena coughed behind her handkerchief. Looking up, he saw that Nick had managed to rearrange his head.

‘To friendship,’ the Friar said again, and the ghosts drained their glasses.


In the privacy of the staffroom, he let himself sink into the deep cushions of his favourite sofa. So long – well, a year, of course, or just under. And such a year! Worse to come, he thought, shifting his buttocks on the corduroy. Young Longbottom was one term into his sixth year and sometimes the Friar doubted whether the child would make it to the end of any given day. Not a Hufflepuff, perhaps, but the Friar owed it to Pomona to see Longbottom safe. And a more gifted herbalist I have not seen, not for a generation. But –

But. And there were other things in the air at Hogwarts. He had ignored them with a resolve that startled him for the last eleven and a half months, but now it was New Year’s Eve and the Fat Friar had choices to make.

He ran an affectionate finger down the neck of his port bottle. Then he got down awkwardly onto the staffroom floor and prayed.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Except he hadn’t. Not much a ghost could do, really in that department, although at Christmas, of course – He gave a delicate shudder. A mixed blessing, Christmas, for a ghost. Was that a heresy? Had he, in fact, sinned? Hastily, he made the sign of the Cross.

He’d seen the looks the Bloody Baron was shooting at Helena Ravenclaw, but the history between them wasn’t exactly in the poor chap’s favour. She would almost certainly be annihilating Nick at poker at this very moment. Poor fellow hasn’t got a hope.

He wasn’t sure whether the ‘poor fellow’ was the Baron or Nick.

However, he was evading the issue. Was this the year…? He had served his time, served it and more as a Hogwarts ghost. Tonight, if he wanted, that time could come to an end. He could move on.

It would be Heaven, surely? A place of infinite bliss. He had tried very hard to imagine a place of infinite bliss, but it was not easy and it became less easy as the years went by. More and more, he thought, Heaven was starting to resemble a corduroy sofa.

A place where I can eat and drink every day of the year. Now that was an attractive option. The Fat Friar patted his tummy. Infinite bliss, indeed! And never the slightest prospect of indigestion.

On the other hand, would he end up taking such a blessing for granted? The Twelve Days were special for ghosts precisely because there were only twelve of them. Twelve days of smell and taste and touch – enough to tantalise the senses, not to jade them.

Enough to remind him of what he had given up. And shall be given to me again, through the Glory of our Lord and through Christ the Redeemer.

The clock on the mantelpiece chimed the half-hour. Thirty minutes to make his choice. How should he spend his last thirty minutes at Hogwarts?

I should look in on young Longbottom. But Longbottom had gone to his grandmother’s for the holiday. Pomona… but Pomona would be in The Three Broomsticks, drinking and dancing with her friends. Saying goodbye to the other ghosts would be a monstrous breach of etiquette. They all had a choice to make on New Year’s Eve.

He wondered, as he did every year, how many of his companions would have passed on when the New Year dawned. They were down to about twenty now; when he had arrived at the castle there had been more than a hundred. But I have a nasty feeling there will be new ghosts very soon. The Fat Friar shuddered. You could never tell what choice a person would make when push came to shove. I’m damned if I’m spending eternity with Pansy Parkinson. Oh dear. Ten Hail Marys, I think, for the word and the uncharitable sentiment behind it.

It would be nice to move on. He was ready, he knew; whether or not he was worthy was not his concern. He had been a faithful and friendly House ghost. Neither frightening not aloof, and proud of his relationship with his Hufflepuffs, who liked to seek him out and tell him their problems. Oh dear, that’s pride. I’ll need to watch that. But isn’t false modesty just as bad?

They’d need a new House ghost. But that too was not his concern. Maybe it would be a change for the better. New blood and all that.

For the first time, he was not afraid. What was I thinking, he mused, so many years ago? Why was I so scared?

What was I holding on to?

So it’s decided, then. This year.
He clambered stiffly to his feet, using the arm of the sofa to pull himself up. Four minutes to twelve. He let his arm brush the worn corduroy.

And yet –

If I pass on, who will care for them?

Pomona. The Hufflepuffs. Longbottom. The other ghosts. Helena. The Baron. Nick. It would be hard to describe any place without them as a place of infinite bliss. One day, he knew, they might pass on without him. And then I’ll follow. But for now

And there were other considerations. From what he’d heard in the Headmaster’s office, Hogwarts was going to need all the help it could get. And that includes me. Us.

Six days left, and a case and a half of this excellent port still to go. We’d better get a move on.

He picked up the bottle and headed for the door. His friends would be waiting.
psyfic: everydayIwritepsyfic on December 14th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
What a lovely, atmospheric piece! I love that it takes into account the House ghosts histories, and fleshes out (so to speak) the Fat Friar. His contemplations, and especially his private asides, are nicely in character and very amusing. Nicely done!

Edited at 2013-12-14 08:01 pm (UTC)
#!/usr/bin/girl: grinchmasdelphipsmith on December 14th, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC)
When I left this prompt I didn't have anything specific in mind, just something that would explore the unique meaning that this time of year has for the Hogwarts ghosts. And your story has delivered, above and beyond my hopes! I love the way you've worked in their individual histories, the idea that the ghosts have this brief time each year when they can touch and taste, the idea that each of them has a choice about going or staying (I'm big on people's choices mattering!). The Friar's prayers are so heartfelt, so human ("damned if I’m spending eternity with Pansy Parkinson. Oh dear. Ten Hail Marys, I think, for the word and the uncharitable sentiment behind it..."), and his musings capture the delicate balance between staying and going so beautifully:

What was I thinking, he mused, so many years ago? Why was I so scared?

What was I holding on to?


And yet –

If I pass on, who will care for them?

*snif* *snif*

A beautiful holiday gift, Mystery Author -- thank you a thousand times!
lyras: Molesworth the Hufflepufflyras on December 17th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
This is completely lovely! I so admire the depth you've given the Friar here, in such a short space. It got me sniffly and a little tearful, all his hope and love and genuine piety but also very human feelings and attachments. A really beautiful story - thank you. <3
mollywheezy: Hufflepuffmollywheezy on December 17th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
I ADORE your characterization of the Fat Friar and the backstory you've given all of the ghosts. This had funny moments and sad moments, and overall was absolutely delightful! Thank you for such a wonderful story! :)
sassy_cat: pinksassy_cat on December 21st, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
Loved this! More and more, he thought, Heaven was starting to resemble a corduroy sofa. Yes, I'd imagine that even living a ghost's life that sentiments would grow and it would be increasingly difficult to leave it behind; although, I'd never thought of it from that perspective before I read this. I adored your focus on the Friar's piety... all those thoughts created a fantastic characterization. Really well done, MA.
Darry Willis: Xmas-Hogwartsnursedarry on December 22nd, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
So, so wonderful! Festive and thoughtful. I know she loved it; she just sent me here :)
thornyrose42: Britishthornyrose42 on December 23rd, 2013 12:57 pm (UTC)
This is such an interesting idea, I kind of really love that every year the ghosts can choose whether or not to move on, but at a time when they can also have a taste of the world's sensory pleasure. Very mythologically cool.
Gummo Bergman's "Silent Strawberries": Bobomarginaliana on January 4th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
Ahh, wonderful! I love the worldbuilding you've done here with the 12 days of sensory ability and the chance to pass on. Just lovely.
kellychambliss: FFNkellychambliss on January 8th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
Very enjoyable and original. I love the idea of the ghosts getting their 12 days and the notion that they might move on from ghosthood. The Fat Friar is an excellent choice of pov character; you capture both the sort of man he must have been and the sort he has become, when heaven, for better and worse, starts to look like a corduroy sofa.