A bell tolls midnight. All I see is darkness. Then everything comes into focus, as my eyes adjust to the darkness, and I figure that it wasn't all that dark to begin with.
I look around, trying to figure out where I am.
And I realize… It's happened again. I'm back in my old school, back in my house's common room. I'm lying on the floor, in the middle of the room. As I get up, I see a small, dying fire is going, left unattended by the students. Of course, since it's so late at night, all the students are asleep. I am alone, all alone again.
Though part of me knows that it's happened again, I still wanted to make sure. I needed to see myself in more ways than one. There are three places I'd go, out of long habit: The prefects' bathroom; the storage room to where I'd seen the Mirror of Erised moved; and my hidden study.
I leave the common room and head for the for the prefects' bathroom. Nobody would see me, of course. Nobody ever did, not anymore.
I know I've been dead for a long time, for over nine long centuries. In my heart, I know it. I still don't believe it, not quite yet. And I won't believe it, not until I can find closure. And it scared me; it still does.
Nobody would see me because, as far as I can tell, I'm… not like the other ghosts here at Hogwarts. I never have been. I never will be. And it's not just because I'm one of the school's founders. I just can't place it, the reason why I keep coming back every night, at the same time every night. All of the ghosts here have some reason to remain, but what my unfinished business is, I don't know.
Could it be that history has gotten it all wrong about my past by making up some details and completely changing others, and that I'm unable to correct anyone, that nobody would believe the truth anyway? It seems to be the most likely answer to me. And… as far as I know, I'll never be able to change that…
Take, for example, the legends that say I was born and raised in a place in England now called Godric's Hollow. No, I wasn't born there. It was just the place I'd first really been to in England. The places where I really grew up, according to Muggles and wizards alike, are just make-believe.
And then there's that painting of "me" on the seventh floor, one that I saw one night, early in my haunting, as I wandered the castle, seeing how the school has changed since I taught here. They've got my image all wrong. My hair isn't long and red; it's short and very dark, and I don't have a beard. My eyes are an unusual shade of blue, not green. My ears are pointed, but that's normal for where I'm really from. They may or may not be in the painting, but I don't think anyone can tell for sure. And I'm a much smaller person. I'm not sure why I was painted the way I was. Maybe it was to make me look more like my reputation would imply, or what someone thought I would, or should, look like.
In the halls, I passed by the ghost of the Grey Lady, Helena Ravenclaw. I paused a minute, turning to face her as she went down the hall, and I raised my hand and started to call out to her, forgetting I'd neither be seen nor heard by my daughter, no matter how hard I'd try. Of course I wouldn't be noticed, I barely remembered, and it hurt.
But, in reality, it wasn't like I'd ever been close to her in life, and I especially wasn't close to her twin brother until just before the end. And to think it was my own damn fault for screwing things up, for basically abandoning the two of them, giving them up for adoption very early on, out of fear… of my own self, and my own troubled childhood. And Rowena didn't stop me. She agreed to let them go. I think she agreed because she cared too much.
I closed my eyes and sighed, and then I continued on to the prefects' bathroom once again. It was just a small, painful part of an eternally long chain of long, painful nights.
I needed to remember… still need to remember… all of the countless painful things in my past, though, in the hope that someone, just one person, no matter how small, could use them to correct the lies about me. If only I could find that one person… and that person could just see me…
And then I will be able to let go of it all. Or so I hope…