Toeing the Line:
Disclaimer: I own neither Danny Phantom nor Harry Potter. No profit is being made...
Author's Note: Huge thank you to my good friend lunakatrina for helping me with terminology and the Southern American accent of my completely unimportant OC (he's just there for backstory) because I am hopelessly British. You think his accent's bad now? You should have seen it before!
I wrote this because I like writing crossovers that are different to the others floating around. Hopefully it'll be just as decent as the others are. The story is in two 'parts' - prior to the prologue and after the prologue. Hopefully that won't be too confusing. Reviews appreciated. Anyway, on with the story:
The one downside of having to tell people that you went to St Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, Harry mused, was the way that when something troublesome happened, you automatically became a suspect.
He was sitting with his hands on the desk in front of him, twiddling his thumbs, staring at the wall. The desk had papers strewn across it haphazardly. He'd make it his job to not touch them. He could feel the eyes of one of the officer's in front of him boring into his skull. The other looked as excited to be there as Harry himself felt.
The silence had stretched for what felt like days. He'd always imagined that being in a room like this would mean he'd be interrogated, with questions being fired like bullets, but apparently it wasn't the case. He didn't know if the lack of questions was a good or a bad thing.
He barely knew why he was there, to be honest. He was still dazed, thinking about what he'd seen.
"Did you do it?" the first officer asked, finally breaking the spell of silence.
Harry blinked. "Do what? I'm not really that sure why I'm here." He was sure that he'd been told, but he'd been a little dazed about the idea of being blamed by law enforcement for something that he'd had no part in at all. He saw the officer's face twist in anger, so he added, "Sorry, sir," to the end of the sentence.
"I want to know," the officer said through gritted teeth, "if you had any doing in destroying the… restaurant." He glanced at the top sheet of the pile of papers. "The Nasty Burger," he added for emphasis, his face screwing up in distaste at the name. Harry didn't really blame him.
"I didn't do anything!" said Harry emphatically. "I only went there to get something to eat! I didn't know anything was going to happen, and I certainly didn't cause it!"
Aunt Petunia threw him a look. Harry grimaced. He'd almost forgotten she was there. Of course, any mentioning of anything weird… well, Aunt Petunia would believe it, wouldn't she? It wouldn't occur to her that he wouldn't use magic if it meant he could be expelled from Hogwarts…
Although he'd come uncomfortably close. Maybe he would have drawn his wand if the police officers hadn't come, but that would be self-defence. Maybe even being expelled was worth it if he could save some lives.
He supposed this was what Hermione called his 'hero complex'.
"Who else did then!" exclaimed the officer, apparently losing any patience he might have had with Harry. "We found you there, and-"
The more carefree looking officer pulled a cigarette from his pocket and lit it up. The nastier officer gave him a filthy look, which was tactfully ignored. He pressed the cigarette to his lips and took a puff. When he'd done so, he held the cigarette gingerly in his hand and remarked, "You ain't doin' a very good job, Finley. You oughta know that ain't proof."
Finley glared back, and said as respectfully as he could muster, "You're undermining me, sir. I thought you weren't meant to interfere, just to watch."
"Ah," the guy tutted, gesturing vaguely with his hand, "I ain't interferin', just suggestin'. Y'all're touchy…"
Finley gritted his teeth.
Aunt Petunia took the moment to hiss to him, "Boy, if you or your kind did anything-"
"I didn't!" Harry exclaimed, a little too loudly, as the men both turned and stared at them. Finley looked suspicious, but the more laid back guy actually looked amused. Lowering his voice again, he said, "It wasn't me Aunt Petunia, I swear. It was like nothing I'd seen before…"
Finley cleared his throat, and they both turned back around, but not before Aunt Petunia glared at Harry, as if daring him to be lying. For once, he could safely say he wasn't.
This time, the question was reworded. Finley began, "If you didn't do it – despite us finding you at the scene of the crime-"
"-With a bunch of other people, who noticeably weren't brought here," Harry muttered under his breath, clearly losing patience with the way they were getting nowhere.
With great self-restraint, Finley ignored him. "Then who did? What happened?"
There was a long silence, and Harry wondered the likelihood of being sent to an insane asylum if he described what actually happened. Perhaps it would even be breaking the Statute of Secrecy. He really doubted talking to Muggles about ghosts would earn him any favour with his aunt, either.
But maybe he'd never get out of there if he lied. He'd made his decision.
"It was a ghost," he sighed, staring in defeat at the table.
Finley stood up from his chair so quickly that it was flung half away across the floor as he said, "That's preposterous! People know that ghosts don't exist!"
"Actually," drawled the still smoking man, a smirk on his face, "that ain't true."
Harry blinked. "You believe me, sir?" It was in his best interests to still be polite. Was the man a wizard?
"You're making it pretty dern obvious you ain't from 'round here, Finley. Amity Park's been full o' ghosts for the past few months."
Aunt Petunia, Harry mused, could really do a very good impression of a goldfish. Finley didn't look that much better. The other man grinned at Harry, looking as amused as Harry felt. He was also looking expectantly at Finley, whom Harry guessed was of inferior rank.
"What did this ghost look like?" Finley sneered.
"There were two," muttered Harry. "There was a lady. She was rather, uh…" He gestured awkwardly in front of him.
"Fat?" The man grinned at Harry, taking another puff of the cigarette.
"Um, yeah," said Harry. He hadn't been sure if it was the most appropriate description to use, but apparently there was nothing wrong with it. He tried to remember how the ghosts had looked. "She had grey hair, and wore an apron and this pink net hat… and there was a boy who looked younger than me. He had white hair and green eyes, and this black lab suit on… and they both looked really corporeal."
They'd looked quite destructive too. Ghosts didn't scare him – there were enough of them at Hogwarts – but they shouldn't be able to hurt anybody… let alone be corporeal. There was obviously something going on in Amity Park…
The way Finley was looking at him, Harry was just waiting for him to snap, 'Ridiculous!'
"Boy," Aunt Petunia hissed from next to him, "why are you making up tales about that… abomination you have?" Maybe, Harry wondered, Aunt Petunia thought he'd somehow conjured the ghosts. The Dursley's seemed fond in believing that anything magical would be to do with him.
Sometimes, with all the attention Voldemort gave him, Harry wondered if they were really all that far off.
Apparently Aunt Petunia had been overheard. Luckily, the man made no comment about his 'abomination'. "Ma'am, he ain't makin' it up. I dunno about the old lady ghost; I'm an officer, not a ghost expert, but anybody can tell you that the kid sounds like Inviso-Bill."
Harry looked startled. "Inviso-Bill?" It was such a bad pun that he almost started laughing.
"Aye," replied the guy, chuckling slightly himself. "I ain't sure that's his name exactly. But it's what the folks 'round here call him. Shows up a lot 'round these parts."
"Oh." There wasn't really anything else to say.
The man turned to Finley with an oddly superior smile. "There we go. They're obviously new 'round these parts too, so it prob'ly ain't a excuse. You can see any news and hear about Inviso-Bill – kid's like a menace. This kid's done nothin' as near as I can tell. Don't you agree, Finley?"
Finley swallowed his pride. He forced a smile. "Yes, sir."
"Great," the man said, then turned and grinned at Harry and Aunt Petunia. "Awful sorry for wastin' your time." He took a puff on the cigarette and opened the door.
"Sir, you shouldn't be smoking in there!" announced the guard at the door, scandalized.
"Aww, hell, it ain't hurting nobody. Besides, it's done now." He smiled and strolled off down the corridor, while the door guard gave a sigh of defeat. Harry guessed that this wasn't the first time the man – apparently quite high ranked, judging by him being called 'sir' – had decided he was above the rules.
Finley was glaring at the door, and Aunt Petunia was, not that the talk of the supernatural had gone away, herself again and turning her nose up at the smell of the smoke.
"Um," Harry prompted. "Should we go then?" He didn't want to stay there any longer than required.
The glare Aunt Petunia gave him could have wilted roses. At least, Harry thought, it meant that things were returning to some semblance of normality (or as much as you could call normal for a wizard).
For a while, anyway.
Author's Note: At Paradoxical readers: No, I haven't forgotten it, I'm working on the plan. I need to plan in short bursts of 6 or so chapters, otherwise I destroy everything meant to happen, which is really frustrating.