A Subtle Haunting

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine; they're all J.K. Rowling's.

He's got this scar, on his littlest toe. A microscope would be needed to see it, it's so tiny. When he's sitting in the armchair, curled in it and right next to the fire with his socks off, he touches the scar, tracing the curving line over and over again.

He says, "It's too hot in here, let's go out," and pads from the common room bare-footed. He walks to the doorway, the portrait, and passes through. It's not past curfew yet, but getting close, and if he wants to go anywhere he'll have to hurry.

He doesn't.

He wanders aimlessly, footsteps a sleepy drawl, trailing chubby fingers on the stone wall as he passes. It's so odd, those fingers, that they shouldn't be as rake-thin as the rest of him. They're browner too, from the sun, the only part of him that tans. Well, his cheeks, a little. Perhaps his forehead.

He never pauses anywhere, not even at the moving tapestries of the Final Battle, him standing proudly and defiantly, wand raised, and Vol... Volde... He Who Must Not Be Named crouching from the shadows malevolently. He doesn't appear to like these tapestries, doesn't even acknowledge their existence. He just walks on.

The stairs move around in elegant, intricate dances, just for him. They're eager to please. He smiles as he watches the dance, a tiny smile. It's private, meant only for him, a symbol of quiet child-like delight. He watches them for a few moments, then jumps blindly.

"Harry! Are you crazy?!"

He smiles from where he landed, wild black hair staining his lightly tanned forehead, and vivid green eyes shimmering gleefully. He likes to play heart- stopping games; he likes to shock everyone just to see if anyone will see him today.

He shrugs his bonily lithe body, his shredded robes rising and falling with the movement. His toes curl into themselves to crouch, blackened flesh flaking off in clumps, and he absent-mindedly brushes the blood and bangs from his forehead. He has no lightning bold scar.

Colour is leaching out of him, slowly. He's turning paler and his eyes aren't so much green as they are void, hair reversing colour from black to white. He's just about see-through.

"Well," he says. He considers the question. His mouth drools blood from a cut on his upper lip. He's looking at one of the moving tapestries. The final scenes in them, the ones that ache as much as they triumph. "Well," he says again. "Maybe just a bit. Wouldn't you be too?"

And he fades away completely.