A/N: Hey everyone! I'm not going to mince words. The past year or so has been horrible for me. My grandma was sick; she broke her ankle, her hip and couldn't live at home when she finally got out of the hospital. She had cancer and had about a year left, but caught pneumonia. She was gone 2 days after that and I was sitting right beside her. I watched her die. I now understand what Harry went through with Cedric a lot better. I apologise for the long wait, but I hope you understand.
So, while I knew I had many people waiting for an update for this, I can honestly say it was not on top of my list of priorities for a while. Even before my grandma got sick I had lost all motivation to write this. I was sick of Harry Potter and had let Danny Phantom fade from my mind. I still like HP, just not the last book/movies. I've also been re-watching DP and have rediscovered my love for it. So, for the last few days, in between various projects and half a dozen chapters I have to beta for others, I've been writing.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own either of these works. I would not be searching for Region 4 DP DVDs otherwise. –grumbles-
Danny will be referred to as Phantom whenever he is in ghost mode (by those who don't know he's Danny or if someone who doesn't know is around).
Recap: He whispered to the half-ghost to drop the invisibility. Remus had no wish to wake up Mrs. Black, so he ushered the teens into the kitchen before allowing them to take off their blindfolds. The Weasleys, Sirius, Harry and Hermione were all in the kitchen, halfway through lunch, though their food was instantly forgotten at the sight of the new arrivals.
Phantom, Sam and Tucker blinked against the sudden light, though their eyes quickly adjusted and they looked around curiously.
"Oh, Remus, it's good to see you again," Molly said. "And you three must be Sam, Tucker and Phantom," she added, smiling warmly at the teens.
"Could I have my cloak back, please, Phantom?" Remus asked with a slight chuckle.
"Huh? Oh, uh, sure," Phantom replied. He had actually forgotten that he was wearing it once the blindfold had been taken off; his mind busy taking everything in. He swept the hood back so he could see the cloak's clasp easier. A multitude of startled gasps greeted this action and Phantom froze, wondering what was wrong.
Mrs. Weasley sniffed, trying hard to remember what Arthur had told her about seeing Phantom as a teenager and not a ghost. It was hard; her motherly instincts were kicking into overdrive, telling her to comfort him in any way she could, though she dared not move in case she frightened him more than he already looked.
Sam glowered at everybody, wondering if they knew that it was rude to stare while Tucker stood beside her, looking a little lost.
Phantom noticed that everyone was staring at him. His electric green eyes widened in surprise before he frowned a moment later. "What?" he asked in a typical annoyed teenager fashion.
Chapter Ten: Breaking the Ice
For a few moments, no-one moved or said anything and only people's breathing could be heard. Phantom wished he had a pin with him to see how loudly he would be able to hear it hit the floor. Getting a sudden idea, Phantom used his ice powers to form a tiny sliver of ice about the size of a regular sewing needle inside his partially curled fist. He let it go, feeling rather satisfied at the chime-like ping it made when it hit the floor. Everybody jumped a bit at the small chime as it echoed throughout the silent room.
"Wow, I guess they really mean it when they say it's so quiet you can hear a pin drop," Phantom commented casually, his amused gaze telling Sam and Tucker exactly what he had done.
Tucker grinned at his friend while Sam shook her head. "Phantom…" she said in a vaguely warning tone, mindful to use his alias.
"Sorry, Sam, I couldn't resist," he muttered sheepishly.
"I can see that we're going to get along just fine," Fred said, grinning widely at his other half.
"Indeed we are," George said, grinning back.
Molly turned to her two prank-loving sons and clucked her tongue in disapproval. "Putting up with the pranks you pair pull is bad enough! I don't want you dragging our guests into any of your mischief-making, am I making myself perfectly clear?"
Fred and George mockingly saluted her, the grins not leaving their faces. Their mother was left with no doubt in her mind that they would try something.
Remembering that he was supposed to be giving Remus back his cloak, Phantom quickly took it off and handed it to its rightful owner. He received a "Thanks," in reply, that small word somehow managing to shatter the rest of the shocked atmosphere.
"My name is Molly Weasley. Are any of you hungry?" Molly asked. Remus looked a touch sickly, as usual, but the three teens seemed a bit on the small, underfed side, much like Harry whenever he came from his Aunt and Uncle's house.
"Do you have any meat?" Tucker quickly asked.
Sam whirled upon her friend. "You already had a couple of hamburgers not long before we left! How many more animals do you plan to eat today?" she huffed angrily.
Phantom smacked a palm to his face and gave a resigned sigh. Feeling curious about what the twins had meant by their words earlier, he walked over until he was standing directly behind them. "Hi, I'm Phantom," he said, giving them a small smile instead of a handshake. "What, exactly, did you mean when you said we'll get along just fine?"
"You're not adverse to a bit of innocent mischief now and then, are you?" George asked.
Phantom thought back to all the pranks he had pulled since he had received his ghostly powers, and even before then. "Uh, no, can't say that I am. What does that have to do with anything?" he asked in genuine curiosity.
"Well, you see-" Fred began.
"They want you to play pranks with them," Hermione butted in. "They think you'd be great at pulling them off if you can really do the things Lupin said in his letter," she elaborated, fixing the twins with a stare full of distaste.
"Oh, is that all? If you want to know, I am pretty good at pulling pranks," Phantom said with only a trace of bragging tone in his statement. "I try not to. More often than not it leads you into bigger trouble that goes way over your head," he added, recalling the whole fiasco with Sydney Pointdexter.
Hermione had been frowning at first, but found herself smiling at his words near the end of his mini speech. "Oh, how rude of me, I'm Hermione Granger," she said quickly, holding out her hand.
Phantom shook it, but let go after a second. He knew that he felt cold to everybody else when he was like this. It made him feel a bit alienated, but he had learned to cope with it long ago.
For her part, Hermione was fascinated. She stared at her hand as though she had never seen it before. Phantom was looking at her oddly, possibly contemplating her current mental state, and turned to her two best friends in an effort to distract himself from her strange behaviour.
One had flaming red hair and freckles, and bore a striking resemblance to Molly and the prankster twins whose names he didn't know. 'Definitely related,' Phantom thought. The other was fairly thin with messy black hair and bright green eyes behind a pair of glasses.
"Don't mind Hermione, she's just never even read about a ghost like you," Harry said, managing to sound slightly apologetic.
Ron nodded beside Harry. "If it's not in a book, Hermione has a hard time coming to terms with things. She reckons the library has an answer to everything. I'm Ron Weasley, and those two," he added, pointedly nodding at the twins, "are Fred and George."
"Harry Potter," the Boy-Who-Lived said, waiting for one of the customary reactions that his name triggered. He was pleasantly surprised when Phantom showed no sign of acknowledging his celebrity status.
"Phantom," the halfa said with a smile. He inclined his head toward his meat-loving friend, who had taken a seat and was being served a few sausages by Mrs. Weasley, "That's Tucker Foley, and my other friend is-"
"Sam Manson," the gothic girl interrupted, making him jump a bit. She had walked up to stand half behind, half beside Phantom. He hadn't been expecting her to suddenly be there like that.
Now that their guests were actually there, Molly hustled Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny back upstairs to finish cleaning the room as soon as the last morsel of food was cleared off each of their plates. When Sam asked her why there was such a rush to get the room clean, Molly admitted that the house needed a good, thorough cleaning and they had only originally cleaned enough rooms for everybody already there.
Sam didn't think it was quite fair that the four British teens had to clean out a room that was meant for her, Tucker and Danny, and announced that she would help. After glowering at Tucker, who was too busy shovelling food into his face to notice anything else, she turned the glower to Phantom. Fearing Sam's wrath, Phantom agreed to help as well.
The four British teens led the way up the stairs after a quickly whispered warning to keep the noise down on the staircase. Sam and Phantom were perplexed at the warning, but acquiesced. Once they reached their room-to-be, neither could hold in a small gasp.
"We only started cleaning this room this morning and, as you can see, we never finished," Hermione said in a vaguely sheepish tone.
The room looked many times better than it had before they had started to turn it habitable, but the ceiling was still thick with dust and cobwebs and the walls were not completely free of them either. The furniture looked respectable and all the pillows, pillowcases and sheets had been removed and replaced. The old ones were awaiting a harsh scrubbing at the hands of Mrs. Weasley.
"Wow, I'd hate to see what this room looked like before you started," Phantom commented absently, staring in awe.
Sam immediately elbowed him in the ribs. Hard. She ignored his pained exclamation and turned to the British teens. "We really appreciate the fact that you went to so much effort like this. I'll go and drag Tucker up here and all three of us will lend you a hand."
Phantom straightened up once Sam left the room and glared sullenly at the empty doorway, rubbing the spot she had hit gingerly. Fast ghostly healing powers aside, when Sam hit someone it hurt. Lots.
"Are you okay?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, I heal fast. Sam just hits really hard." His feet suddenly left the ground and he slowly floated up to the ceiling. "Let's see if I can do something about this…" he muttered loud enough for the others to hear. He placed a hand on a patch of the roof and swatted the cobwebs aside to reveal the wooden panelling. He put his gloved hand on the wood and concentrated on turning the roof intangible.
Intangibility was a tricky thing. You were only able to go through what you had initially turned intangible for unless you changed your focus. When he had first fought the Lunch Lady, he had turned intangible to avoid hitting a wall after she had caught him with a full-body blow. His body had gone half through the wall by the time his inertia was spent, though he had then thudded solidly onto the floor while still intangible.
Phantom was trying to turn the room's ceiling intangible, but only to let the dust and webs fall. He didn't want any furniture from the room above falling on them. The wood turned a see-through, pale white-blue colour and all the dust and cobwebs fell down.
Of course, Phantom had forgotten that by cleaning the roof, all the muck would fall over everything else, including himself and the British teens. He coughed and looked down, trying in vain to hide his sheepish expression.
Not one of the British teens had said a word, so Phantom quickly touched back down and began turning everything dusty intangible until the whole room was spotless. All except the floor.
Sam returned, tugging Tucker along behind her, but stopped only one step past the doorway with her mouth open.
"Whoa, you didn't get split in half and kidnap their vacuum cleaner, did you?" Tucker asked, looking around the room. "Sam told me it needed some major cleaning!"
"Part of it still does," Ginny remarked, eyeing her web and dust-laden clothes appraisingly before sparing the floor a glance.
"Uh, let me fix that for you," Phantom said quickly, walking over and turning each of them intangible before doing the same to himself. He was about to turn the floor intangible, to drop the mess into the room below, but Ginny grabbed his arm and pulled him back a few centimetres.
Ginny shook her head. "I think we should clean the floor the old-fashioned way," she said.
"Yes, I think that might be for the best," Sam said, making Phantom fidget a bit under her unrelenting gaze. He shrugged helplessly.
"What's a vacuum cleaner?" asked Ron.
"Oh honestly," Hermione muttered. "I'll tell you later."
The tips of Ron's ears and his cheeks flushed red as the three Americans looked at him strangely. "More cleaning," he said in a flat tone, doing his utmost to ignore the strangers.
"It won't kill you," Ginny stated.
"I'll go and get some dustpans," Harry said. He squeezed past Sam and Tucker and went quickly down the stairs, remembering to keep quiet so as not to wake something best left asleep. It was a miracle that Sam and Tucker had not woken anything. They must not have seen the stuffed elf heads or simply decided not to comment.
Harry had a feeling that Sam was like Hermione and would join S.P.E.W. without a second thought. Hermione's nagging was bad enough, he didn't want to imagine what it would be like if there were two of her.
Once he had acquired a few dustpans, courtesy of Mrs. Weasley, he went back to the others and distributed them. He set about the arduous task of sweeping up the thick layer of dust with stubborn resolution. Everyone quickly followed his example in silence. The only sound was the sweeping brushes, a strange symphony that echoed around the room.
Harry shuddered. The sound made him feel as though the room was full of snakes, hissing and rustling, just waiting for the right moment to sink venomous fangs deep into their soft, unprotected flesh.
The strange dream Harry had suddenly came back to him. The noise made by these few dustpan brushes were nothing compared to the cacophony of hissing and spitting that had surrounded him in his dream. He forced himself to calm down and remember that not all snakes are bad. The Brazilian boa constrictor he had set free at the zoo four years ago had been very polite.
He pulled his focus back to cleaning, unaware of the electric green eyes that were watching him.
A while and one full dustbin later, the teens stood back to admire their work. The floor was now mercifully dust-free and the rug had been brutally beaten until it was clean enough to lay on.
"I reckon we should be rewarded for this," Ron stated, looking at the room with something akin to pride dancing behind his eyes.
Ginny snorted lightly. "Like what? A new Cleansweep?"
"Yeah, that would be good," Ron answered dreamily as his eyes glazed over.
"What's a Cleansweep?" asked Tucker. It was now his turn to be stared at incredulously by the four British teens, though unlike Ron he didn't blush.
"Don't worry about it Tuck," Phantom said with a yawn, falling backwards to land spread-eagled on one of the beds.
"Could you give us some privacy for a while? We've come from a different time zone and we're kinda tired," Sam said, using Phantom's yawn as an excuse to be left alone.
"Oh, of course, sorry! I forgot all about it. Do you want one of us to come and get you for dinner?" Hermione asked looking quite apologetic.
"Yeah, that would be great, thanks," Sam replied with a smile. She was trying not to let her impatience show on her face. The British teens piled out, leaving the room looking much emptier. As soon as they could no longer hear footsteps, Sam whirled upon the half-ghost hero. "Danny, are you okay?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine," he said reassuringly. "I'm just not used to staying in ghost form for so long; it's a little draining." Another yawn broke free.
"You should probably change back now, while you can, and then go ghost again before we go down to eat. You'd save a bit of energy that way," said Tucker. He sat down on one of the other beds and jumped up and down a bit, testing to check how soft it was and how much it creaked. The bed gave a few muffled protests but Tucker stopped, satisfied.
"Yeah, that sounds like a good plan," Danny said. Without moving a muscle Danny let go of his ghost half, the two rings sweeping the length of his body. The raven-haired teen took a deep breath, sighed, and closed his eyes, drifting off into sleep straight away.
Sam and Tucker glanced at each other, unsure of what to do.
Harry, Hermione and the Weasley children had met up in Ron and Harry's room to discuss the strangers. Fred and George were eager to pull a prank on them to see how they handled it. The twins were hoping that Phantom would retaliate so that they could get the measure of his skills and methods. The others were more interested in discussing whether or not the strangers would agree to spy on the Order for them.
"We can't just stroll up to them and ask," Hermione said. "They've only been here a few hours and none of them seem to have any idea of what's going on. If we ask them to spy on the people that are supposed to be protecting them, what will they think?"
"So you're saying that we should wait until they trust us enough?" Harry asked, frowning slightly. At Hermione's nod his frown deepened. "But what if they don't trust us enough before we leave for Hogwarts?"
"We'll just have to earn their trust before then," Hermione said with a determined expression.
Time slipped by as they continued to talk. None of them took any notice of the black, empty picture frame hanging on the wall.
When the time for dinner rolled around, Sirius wandered upstairs to the room his godson was staying in, not surprised to find everyone else in there, and told them dinner was ready and to let the new guests know. He went back to the kitchen after they acknowledged the message.
On their way, the group of four (Fred and George had apparated) stopped at the door to the newly occupied room. Hermione was at the front so she knocked, softly at first. When no one answered she knocked harder.
Tucker had begun to doze off not long ago but Sam was wide awake. She heard the second round of knocking and felt a flash of panic. What if they opened the door?
"Hello? Sorry for disturbing you, but dinner's ready," said Hermione, her voice, already low because they were on the stairs, sounded quite muffled through the door.
"Hang on," Sam called out quickly. "We'll be out in a minute."
Tucker snuffled a bit and shifted, his eyes opening. "What's going on? Is the food ready?" he asked hopefully.
Sam rolled her eyes. "Yes, Tucker, it's ready. We have to wake Da-Phantom," she said, hastily correcting herself and hoping that the others hadn't heard her through the door. She could've smacked herself in the head for that. As Tucker pushed himself up off the bed, Sam walked over to her other best friend and gently shook his shoulder.
The half-ghost teen was loathe to rouse from his slumber; he would have happily slept for hours. Still, he knew he had to get up and go downstairs, even if it was just for show. They weren't expecting him to eat anything and he certainly wasn't going to give himself away by taking a bite of whatever was on the table, even if it smelled absolutely mouth-watering. He hoped his stomach wouldn't rumble. How would he explain that?
Now that he thought about it, he wasn't even sure his stomach could rumble when he was in ghost mode. If his energy levels were low as a ghost, he always became tired. Never hungry, he recalled, just tired.
The four teens on the other side of the door were all trying hard to hear anything. All they could hear, however, were muffled voices and the odd groan from disused bedsprings. Hermione hadn't moved from her spot right in front of the door, though she had been unable to glean anything more than the rest. They were so intent on staring at the unyielding wooden door that none of them noticed the flash of light that appeared through the cracks at the top and bottom of the doorframe.
A few more seconds passed before the door opened to reveal Sam. The British teens hastily moved aside and lead the way down the stairs as Tucker and Phantom followed their friend. They settled themselves in whatever chair took their fancy - the three protectors of Amity Park next to each other on one side and the magical teens directly opposite - once they reached the kitchen table, and a sense of awkwardness fell over the room.
Harry, Hermione and the Weasley children were used to dining with Nearly Headless Nick, so having a ghost at the table was nothing new. They had also dined with foreigners in the Great Hall at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Tournament, so Sam and Tucker didn't really bother them. The three Americans acted as close as the Gryffindor Trio and had a secretive air about them, making Harry a little wary. With Voldemort back, strangers with secrets could be very dangerous.
Phantom's thoughts were running on eerily similar lines. He had no idea what to expect from these people nor what they expected of him. He knew they were trying not to stare, but he kept catching a curious glance here and there out of the corner of his eye.
The smell of cooking food was thick in the air and Phantom tried very hard to keep a look of hunger off his face. As he was in ghost form he didn't really feel any pangs of hunger, but he knew he was hungry. He must have failed as he caught Molly's eye and her look of sadness and pity. The half-ghost smiled at her in what he hoped was a reassuring manner.
"Is there anything I can get you, dear?" Molly asked, hoping there was something she could do for the poor boy.
"It's a shame you ghosts can't eat, Mum's a really good cook," Ron said without thinking.
Hermione, taking a leaf out of Sam's book, elbowed Ron in the ribs. "Honestly Ron, you're the most insensitive person I've ever met!"
"Ronald! That was very rude. Apologise to Phantom this instant!" Molly scolded, her eyes flashing.
Ron's ears turned red and he looked down at his lap, unable to face Phantom. "Sorry, didn't mean to offend you or anything," he mumbled.
"It's okay," replied Phantom. "I wouldn't mind trying some of your cooking if I can," he went on, turning his attention back to Ron's mother.
"Can you eat like that?" asked Remus as he walked into the room.
Phantom fidgeted a bit uncomfortably as everyone's eyes focused on him. "I don't know. It can't hurt to try though, right?" he said optimistically. It wasn't really a lie. He'd never sat down to a meal in ghost mode before. If he could eat, would he feel full when he turned back?
Molly smiled warmly at him and gave him a plate as well. The meal was a simple affair; a couple of sausages, eggs and a piece of buttered toast. Sam declined the sausages, opting for more toast. Phantom murmured his thanks, waited for everyone else to start eating, and eyed his plate critically. He picked up the piece of toast and took a bite before setting it back down – his ghostly aura would swiftly leech all the warmth out of the bread if he held onto it.
Sam surreptitiously glanced at him and saw him smile. He looked at her and winked, digging in with a will. Feeling drained of ghostly energy, and the subsequent map he had just taken, had left him with quite an appetite. Tucker evidently felt the same as he devoured his sausages.
Ron was right – his mother was a good cook. Phantom caught the others sneaking peeks at him again from time to time and he tried to ignore them as best he could. Sometimes he would catch them in the act and they would quickly transfer their gaze to their plates. Hermione had the grace to blush and offer him an apologetic smile when he caught her. When he met Mrs. Weasley's gaze however, he smiled and gave a tiny nod, and she beamed in return.
The silence stretched on as everyone seemed content not to break it.
'Well, so much for not giving myself away by eating…' Phantom thought wryly as he stared at his empty plate. 'At least this way we don't have to sneak around or make up any excuses to get extra food for me.'
When everyone was finished, which didn't take long, Mrs. Weasley collected up the plates and playfully shooed Phantom and Sam away when they offered to help clean up.
"I'm so tired," Tucker said, letting loose a huge yawn.
"Yeah, me too," Phantom agreed.
Sam rolled her eyes but had to bite back her own yawn. She saw her best friends give her a knowing look and rolled her eyes again. "Yeah, yeah," she muttered.
After everyone had bidden each other goodnight, the three Americans went back to their room, got changed - the boys let Sam have the room to herself for that – and sank gratefully onto their beds and burrowed under the covers. Danny released his ghost form, grateful for the extra warmth his human half provided. It didn't take long for sleep to set in.
Danny groaned as he felt someone shake his shoulder. He pulled the covers higher over his head in an effort to dissuade whoever it was. Danny thought he had succeeded as the hand, which probably belonged to Jazz, pulled away. The next moment someone blew straight in his ear. His eyes flew open and he was fully prepared to give Jazz a piece of his mind when he spotted Sam and realised he wasn't home.
"Wakey, wakey!" she chanted, an evil on her face.
"Ugh… What time is it?" he asked, peering around for a clock.
Sam shrugged. "A bit past ten. They let us sleep in 'cause we're still adjusting to their time."
Danny saw a lump snoring away in Tucker's bed. "Why didn't you wake Tuck up?" he asked, throwing back the bed covers and stretching with his arms above his head. He gave a satisfied sigh as something popped.
"Don't think I didn't try. I figured a bit of ice down his back would do the trick," she said cheerfully, a dangerous glint in her eye as her evil smirk widened.
Danny matched her evil smirk and went ghost. Reaching for the cold core within himself, he closed his hands and created several little cubes of ice. He walked over to Tucker's bed, making sure Tucker was facing away from him, and turned his hands, along with the ice cubes, intangible. He slipped them through the sheets and dropped the cubes.
The ice regained its tangibility the moment it left Danny's gloved hands.
Tucker yelped loudly and scrambled out of bed. He frantically ran both hands up and down his back to find the cause and dispel the chill. After several seconds he stopped, hearing muffled laughter behind him. It didn't take Tucker long to put two and two together.
"Ha-ha, real funny guys," he said sarcastically as he turned to face them.
"Nice dance move," Danny said casually, trying and failing to wipe the grin off his face.
A knock sounded on the door, startling all three, and Mrs. Weasley's voice came softly through the door. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, everything's fine!" Phantom called out.
"Says you," Tucker muttered darkly, shooting the half-ghost and goth a glare. He moved to his bag, which was mostly still packed, and grabbed his clothes, throwing them behind him onto the bed. He whipped around suddenly and brandished something at Phantom.
It was a Fenton Lipstick.
With a playful smirk Tucker fired a tiny blast over his friend's white hair. The half-ghost gave a look of mock horror and phased through the door, accidentally going straight through Mrs. Weasley, who had yet to move from the door.
She blinked, her mouth formed into a little 'o' of surprise. It was cold, yes, but not as bad as the frigid, ice-water feeling of the Hogwarts' ghosts. It was more like having a glass of water that had been sitting in the fridge for hours poured over you.
"Oh, uh, sorry," Phantom mumbled. He was floating a few inches off the floor and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand in embarrassment.
Mrs. Weasley mentally shook herself. "It's not a problem, dear. I can make you and your friends a late breakfast if you want, or an early lunch," she said with a smile.
"Breakfast sounds great!" Tucker said as he opened the door a crack and stuck his head out into the hallway.
"I'll go and get started," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "Oh, before I forget, please keep the noise down on the stairs and in the hallways. It's an old house you see, and it's easy to disturb…others."
Phantom nodded, wondering about the slight hesitation. Sam pushed past Tucker to join Phantom in the hall.
"Don't start without me," Tucker said quickly before he shut the door and rushed to get dressed. Phantom was still technically in his pyjamas, though his ghostly outfit remained the same, so he decided to eat first and get dressed later.
The Gryffindor trio, Ginny and the twins were at the kitchen table. They hadn't been sent off to clean anything yet and had lingered at the table for lack of anything better to do. They had actually been waiting for the Americans to show up, particularly after hearing the ruckus. It was a miracle Mrs. Black hadn't started screaming.
Mrs. Weasley entered first and immediately began bustling about making toast. Sam and Phantom were not far behind her and both looked smug about something. They were just about to sit down when Tucker almost skid through the doorway. Greetings were exchanged and then conversation was momentarily halted as the toast was served.
"I hope you don't mind me asking," Hermione said as they were halfway through their first slice, "but what was that noise from earlier?"
None of the British teens missed the indignant glare that Tucker aimed at his two friends.
"Just some people acting like five-year-olds," Tucker answered.
"Just saving the world from noise pollution," Phantom quickly retorted.
Tucker looked scandalized. "Noise? What noise?"
"You came up with that iPod full of strange noises to use as excuses – which was really handy by the way, thanks! – and you ask 'what noise'?" Phantom said incredulously.
"You didn't have to put ice down my back!" Tucker whined, partway through his second slice.
The witches and wizards looked at Phantom in surprise. Sam gave an unladylike snort of laughter that she tried to muffle behind her hand. Fred and George were grinning at the half-ghost, something that looked suspiciously like pride and a challenge shining in their eyes.
"Perhaps we should try something of the sort ourselves one of these days," said Fred.
"Perhaps we should," George airily agreed. "Not with ice though."
"No, not with ice. I'm sure we'll think of a wonderful alternative."
"Oh yes, definitely."
"No you won't," Mrs. Weasley interrupted while collecting Sam's plate. She stood there, plate in one hand with the other on her hip, and peered at the twins sternly. She was the epitome of motherly authority, though the twins simply nodded in a way that told Molly someone was going to get a rude awakening tomorrow morning.
Tucker grabbed a third slice of toast. "Don't you dare pull anything on me, I've already been a victim."
Both twins leaned back casually in their chairs. They adopted a nonchalant air and looked down their noses at the beret-wearing boy.
"Pull something on you? I think not," George said in a snobbish tone.
"You're too easy as a target," said Fred, matching his brother's tone perfectly.
Tucker felt both relieved and offended by this and wasn't sure which of the two to express. He settled for something in the middle and the result looked as if something vaguely rotten smelling had been shoved under his nose. Sam fought down another snort of laughter.
"So…are we supposed to do something today or what?" Phantom asked the room in general.
Mrs. Weasley cleared her throat and placed Sam's plate in the sink with a small clatter. "Well, there's going to be a meeting tonight and Dumbledore requested that you be present, Phantom. You three can relax today," she said with a small nod to the Americans.
"Does that mean we get the day off too?" Ron asked hopefully.
"No it doesn't," Mrs. Weasley instantly replied. "I've let you lounge around long enough. You lot need to finish clearing out the front room. Go on, shoo!" she said, waving them out of the kitchen.
What the ghost hunting trio saw that the Hogwarts students didn't, was the amused expression that replaced the stern one on Molly's face as they disappeared to do her bidding.
A few minutes after both boys finished their breakfast the three sidled away, only to end up following Ron's complaining voice and the twins' loud, playful banter. They found the Weasleys, along with Harry and Hermione, in front of a large black cupboard that took up half of one wall. The cupboard doors were made of glass, somewhat misted with age; the contents further obscured by a layer of dust that coated the whole cupboard.
The British teens had one of the cupboard doors open and seemed to be slowly and carefully removing items one by one. A large white, mostly empty sack was laying on the ground near their feet. They turned around at the sound of footsteps but went back to work when they saw who it was.
"Want a hand?" Sam asked as she stepped forward.
"Anything to get this done faster," Ron snorted before anyone else could reply.
Hermione glared at him. "How many times do I have to tell you that we can't rush?" she said in a bossy tone. "I keep telling you that we don't know what half of this stuff is and if any of it is dangerous," she continued, placing extra emphasis on the last word.
"Ow!" Harry suddenly yelped, dropping a tiny carved box on the floor. He stared at his hand for a moment before curling his fingers over and straightening them again, apparently satisfied.
"See? Just like that!" Hermione exclaimed at the same time that Phantom said, "Dude, are you okay?"
Harry shook his hand slightly as he frowned at the box. "Yeah, I'm fine. It just got really hot after a second." He swiftly wrapped his cleaning cloth around his hand and gingerly picked up the box. After a couple of seconds he hastily put it back down, partially dropping it again. "That thing burns! How are we supposed to hold it long enough to toss it away?"
"Give me your cloth," Phantom said while stepping up to Harry and holding out his hand. Harry handed it over wordlessly, though his emerald eyes burned with curiosity. Phantom's electric green eyes gave nothing away as he took the cloth, bundled it in his gloved hands, and concentrated for several seconds before giving it back.
As Harry touched the cloth he smiled in surprise. The small ice cubes Phantom had wrapped up felt absolutely wonderful against his stinging palm and fingers. "Wow, thanks," he said gratefully.
Phantom returned the smile. "How about I give it a go?"
"But Dan…gerous…" Tucker said slowly with a slightly panicked expression. "It's dangerous, remember?" He let out the breath he'd been holding when Sam whispered, "Nice save," just loud enough for him to hear.
"Relax, Tuck," Phantom said with an easy grin, "I got this one totally covered."
Having said that, Phantom held an icy aura around his right hand, dropping the room temperature a small notch. The easy grin faded as he quickly grabbed the tiny box, sparing no time to gawk at its intricate carvings, and all but threw it into the bag now held open by Hermione. The witch let the bag fall, but the fwump it made as it hit the floor didn't disguise the pained gasp that escaped Phantom's lips.
"Phantom!" Sam and Tucker both cried out while rushing toward their friend.
Sam's hand shot out and snagged Phantom's right wrist faster than even his ghost-honed reflexes could dodge. Phantom was impressed despite himself. The goth girl gently twisted his wrist so that his palm faced up. Most of the teens gasped, though Phantom only winced.
It looked like someone had poured acid over his hand. His white glove was partly eaten away and the skin beneath was raw, blistered and covered in droplets of bright green ectoplasm like he had been repeatedly poked by a needle. It looked just like a second-degree burn if you ignored the fact that the blood was green.
Still, blood was blood, and the three Americans knew the injury was just as bad as if he had been Fenton, ghostly healing aside.
"I'll get the First-Aid kit," Tucker volunteered, making for the door. They had brought their own kit with them that contained a few extras not found in any other: Fenton Ecto-Disinfectant Spray, Fenton Ghost Thermometer and Fenton Ghost Pathogen Detector.
These particular inventions had come about when Jack and Maddie had captured a sick ghost. The ghost, who had displayed symptoms similar to a mild flu, had prompted them to start researching ghost viruses. They had invented several ways to fight ghostly infection before trying to find a way to use a ghostly virus as a weapon, though they had been experiencing limited success with the weapon part.
The spray worked like normal disinfectant alcohol, but also killed any ecto-bacteria. The thermometer could be set to work for a human or a ghost or, indeed, something in-between, as the Fentons had discovered the normal temperature range of an average ghost. They had created it in case anything like the outbreak of those mosquitoes that had given children ghost powers ever happened again. The pathogen detector, when pointed at a ghost, would scan it for ecto-bacteria that indicated sickness.
Though the elder Fentons didn't know it, these inventions had greatly helped their youngest child. Sam, Tucker, Jazz and Danny had discovered that they were perfect to use on a halfa, which was why Tucker was heading to get the kit.
Ginny suddenly strode past and stopped in the doorway just long enough to say, "Wait here, I'll go get Mum." Her fiery red hair, streaming like a banner behind her, whipped around the doorframe and out of sight.
Sam, Tucker and Phantom glanced uneasily at each other.
A/N: Well, there you have it. No ghost-fighting action, but that's not all there is to DP. Besides, how would any of Amity's ghosts have tracked Danny to England and gotten there so fast? Grimmauld Place IS Unplottable and I haven't seen any ghost beside Danny/Dan with a Ghost Sense.
Still, I hope it was an interesting read. I've probably disappointed many of you with the contents after such a long wait and for that I apologise.
I sincerely hope that you don't hate me enough not to leave feedback. I'm sure my writing has improved from one year ago, though it's hard for me to tell. Could you please tell me if I'm improving or if my writing quality has fallen? What you did and didn't like about this chapter?
A huge thank you to all of my reviewers – the ones I could reply to and the anonymous ones I couldn't! It means more to me than you know to hear from you.
Would you believe this story has 312 reviews, 42,760 hits (O_o), 14 C2s, 259 favs and 399 alerts? Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream that I could write anything that ever gained this much attention! Again, a HUGE THANK YOU! to you all!
Remember! - I always keep my profile page up-to-date. I have a section there where I post what chapter of which story I'm up to and how much of that chapter I've completed. If you wanna know how close I am to finishing the next chapter of ANY of my stories, head there and scroll down a short way. They're under the heading 'Story Updates'.