Dave was used to people underestimating him. "Oh there goes Dave, always drooling and moaning," they'd say, with those stuck-up looks on their faces at what they considered to be a repellent smell. For his part, Dave thought he smelled quite lovely.
And, of course, they never said "Dave" because wand carriers were ghastly, prejudiced children who never bothered to learn anyone's names. Or their language, even when they obnoxiously moved themselves into a ghoul's home, acting like they owned the place when they had been on this earth for merely 30 years and he'd been living on that land for 300.
For those reasons alone, Dave refused to learn their names even though the Harridan often yelled them at top decibels.
He could have forced them out—wand carriers didn't like when ghouls made a fuss—and he had seriously considered it when the couple moved in. The Man was all right. He was quiet and earnest and excitable, spending hours fussing over tiny little metallic bricks. He found joy in the simple things, and Dave could relate.
The Harridan on the other hand—she squawked and she yelled, and she kicked Dave out of his room, forcing him into the attic like he was some sort of secret. Dave didn't like her at all.
But then she'd brought home the Rebel, and Dave had been quite amused by him. He yelled and he yelled—with ghouls, that was a sign of intelligent young, but the Harridan didn't seem to like it at all, always trying to shut the rebel up.
As he grew up, the Rebel caused more yelling. But he also proved Dave right—he was intelligent, always outsmarting the Harridan. Dave watched as he broke vases and dishes, always fixing them before she saw. He watched as the Rebel transfigured a trellis outside his bedroom window, so he could sneak out in the middle of warm summer nights—whether he was going to the village pub for a pint or meeting a girl, Dave never knew, but he knew the Rebel never got caught.
And then the Rebel left him, returning only once in a while, much to the delight of Dave and the Rebel's siblings. The Harridan didn't seem to like it though. She was always going on about earrings and long hair. She had earrings and long hair though, so Dave didn't really see the problem.
Then there'd been the Adventurer. He was Dave's favorite. When he was a toddler, he took to wrestling with the garden gnomes, and he told wild stories about hippogriffs and thestrals and griffins. He was the only one who ever visited Dave to get to know him, coming up to his attic to try to talk to him. They never quite learned to communicate—he couldn't speak ghoul and Dave refused to use the Adventurer's language on principle—but he would offer plates of cakes and tea, and treated Dave like a member of the family.
Then he discovered dragons and forgot all about ghouls and gnomes. And then he left for good, returning even less than the Rebel.
Then there was the Uptight One. Dave didn't want to like that one—the Harridan seemed most pleased with him, and Dave didn't want to agree with her on anything. But even though he often turned his nose up at Dave, he kept mostly to himself and didn't bang on in the middle of the day when Dave was trying to get his beauty rest. Dave thought that was quite considerate of him—a welcome change to the rest of them.
He left Dave, too, after a loud row with the Harridan and the Man. Dave had never heard the Man raise his voice before—surely, the Uptight One must have murdered some puppies with the way they were going on—but the second he heard the Harridan screech in the manner she usually reserved for Loud and Louder, he knew the Uptight One would desert him too.
The less said about Loud and Louder, the better, as far as Dave was concerned. They interrupted his sleep at all hours of the day, and when they were small, they tried to wrestle him. Once they were mostly grown, they resumed their visits to his attic—but only to experiment on him and to take some of his slime for what he was sure was unsavory purposes.
Dave liked the Surly One the least. The Harridan must too, because she put him in the bedroom furthest away from her—the one closest to Dave—and so for 11 years, Dave had to listen to his whining and moaning and stamping around about how life wasn't fair. If he wanted to talk about fair, have a Harridan and her litter of squealing hyenas take up residence in your ancestral home, and then they could talk. The Surly One didn't know anything about real pain or hardship, but he always acted like it was his puppies the Uptight One murdered.
He was quite glad when the Surly One went to school, as that meant he finally got a break from the complaining. Of course, each summer there were new things to complain about. Oh sure, he still bellowed about money and his rubbish stuff, but now there was also the know-it-all and the ferret and that git potions professor of his.
And You-Know-Who. He complained a lot about You-Know Who. They all seemed to act like Dave should know who he was, but Dave didn't have the slightest clue. But increasingly they all seemed to talk about Whoever-He-Was.
There was also the Girl. Dave didn't think much of her except that when she got old enough for perfume, it made him sneeze. The Harridan seemed to like this one the most, so Dave made sure to keep as far away from her as possible.
But, for the most part, he enjoyed them, and so he lived in peaceful harmony with them—getting them to move out would take too much effort. And besides, ghouls lived for hundreds of years and the Harridan seemed to be driving her young away at a steady pace, so Dave just had to outlive the Man and the Harridan.
Still, those years after Loud and Louder went away to school were dark, dark years. Left alone with his three least favorite wand carriers—and eventually left alone with just the Harridan—Dave's days and nights never seemed so long. At least Loud and Louder kept her busy.
Eventually, there were others. The French One was his favorite. The Harridan and the Girl hated her the most—Dave supposed it was because the French One was about the ugliest being he'd ever seen in his life, but she was funny and she put the Harridan down in the most clever of ways, pointing out all her failings at keeping her house tidy.
Dave had watched the Harridan clean day in and day out for two decades and he still didn't understand it. She was a wand carrier—that stick of wood should have done all the work for her.
Granted, he didn't particularly understand the point of cleaning—didn't you want your home to smell like you, so all outsiders would know the territory was marked?—but if you absolutely insisted on cleaning, surely it wasn't all that hard with the wand. Louder had once turned his favorite dead rat into a live pig instantaneously. How hard could making some dirty dishes clean be?
There was also the one with all the hair and the one with the scar. Eventually, Dave realized that the one with all the hair was the know-it-all that the Surly One complained about, and so he instantly took to her. She talked a lot about house elves, something that seemed to aggravate the Surly One, but Dave had never heard a wand carrier talk about magical beings quite like that before. Hair seemed smarter than the rest.
He wasn't too sure about the one with the scar—the Harridan always doted on him as much as she did the Girl, and he seemed to be friends with the Surly One, and they were Dave's two least favorite wand carriers. But Scar was quiet and polite, and he eventually grew on Dave. He sometimes made the Surly One surlier—Dave gathered he must be rich or something—but when he was around, the Surly One spent more time outside riding around on his broomstick, which meant Dave didn't have to listen to his whining in his room.
That bit of business was now Scar's problem, and Dave felt a bit bad for him about it.
And then came the day that the Man and the Surly One came to him with a plan—they wanted to give him hair and pajamas, and have him pretend to be the Surly One, living in the Surly One's room.
Dave was all for it since surely it meant the Surly One wouldn't be around.
He had some of the best months of his life living in the bedroom, with the occasional visit from wand carriers who wanted to prove he was the Surly One. They never got too close though—he supposed they didn't like the Surly One either.
He made sure to get his slime over everything; the Surly One already thought all of his stuff was rubbish and he surely wouldn't like that. Dave considered it payback for years of ruining his naps. And for the garish orange color the room was covered in.
And then, not long after the Girl returned home, the Rebel came with a warning, and the next thing he knew, his home was deserted.
For the first time in decades, Dave had his house back. And you know what? It was a little too quiet. He missed Loud and Louder's showy displays, and he missed the way the Man hopped in excitement when he took apart those metal boxes, and he missed Hair's lectures about how magical beings and creatures deserved rights too, and he always missed the Rebel and the Adventurer just being themselves.
When they returned, the Uptight One was back, but Louder was gone forever, something that made Dave surprisingly sad.
They all walked around like ghosts. They told stories about Louder. Dave saw the Uptight One comforting Loud with a hug once, something he'd never witnessed before. He thought they hated each other. The Girl fought with Scar—Dave had never seen them talk much at all before this, but apparently they knew each other—and the Harridan no longer seemed to yell. She just sat at her kitchen table crying.
The Rebel and the French One were around more, and Dave liked that.
The Surly One took back his room—with a look of disgust at how Dave had left it—clearly expecting Dave to return to the attic.
But one night, while passing Scar and Hair on the stairwell, their lips fused together—the mating rituals of wand carriers were strange—Dave realized that Hair had been right. He did have rights. And this had been his house first.
And so he moved himself into one of the empty rooms, and the next morning he made his way down to the living room where the Adventurer, the Rebel and the French One were sitting, reminiscing about the wedding Dave hadn't been invited to. Scar and Hair were there too, sharing a secret smile with each other that the others didn't seem to notice.
"Tea?" he asked the Adventurer as he sat down, gesturing to the service before them.
All of them blinked at him in surprise—Hair was practically bouncing in her seat at this development, and Scar gently put his arm around her to calm her down—and then his old friend, remembering their old rituals, picked up the plate in front of him.
"Lemon cake?" the Adventurer—Charlie—asked, and as Dave bit into the delightful concoction, he felt for the first time in a long while that he was home. Sure, he'd still have to deal with the Harridan and the Surly One and the Girl—and maybe she was all right… he'd never particularly given her a chance—but if there's anything he'd learned from the wand carriers over the years, sometimes you didn't always particularly like everyone in your family—but they were yours, and that was okay.
And besides, dealing with the Harridan had to be more fun joking around with the French One than sitting alone in the attic.