My Life Within These Walls

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The first hundred years as a ghost are the hardest. Severus is forced to spend them bound to the location of his death, which, through an infinitely annoying twist of fate, happens to be the Shrieking Shack.

He eventually floats around the Grounds and into the Castle trough sheer willpower, the self-control that let him practice Occlumency against the Dark Lord. Every night, he returns to the place where Dark Creatures viciously assaulted his living body twice.

After two hundred years, a single return every month suffices. On good days, he even manages to find some sick humour in that.

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Mostly, Severus is glad that the Headmaster's office holds no portrait of himself, although he sometimes longs for the conversation that could make.

Whenever he fears the afterlife might cost him his sanity, he visits with two particular residents of the hallowed frames on the wall. Albus knows better than to insist on a conversation, now, but Minerva and Longbottom have a calming effect on him.

There have been other competent headmasters since them, but even Longbottom's successor was not yet born at the time of the Battle of Hogwarts. None but those two had fought against, fought with him.

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Initially, being unable to escape the school even after his sacrificial, long overdue and rather painful death had left him blind with rage. Upon Severus' return to the Castle, the Bloody Baron gave him a purpose, declared himself the Ghost of Hogwarts and the newcomer Ghost of Slytherin.

Haunting the cellars, he monitors every student sleeping in the halls. Every so often, there is an eleven-year-old child, all alone, resentful of the world, raised among overwhelmed, ignorant, fearful Muggles.

Their potential downslide, however, stays only ever that: potential. The world is saved by whispered words of comfort and derision in their dreams.

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