In the world of Harry Potter, there are four houses and each of the houses has a resident ghost. There are other ghosts too, of course, not just the four. The first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone says there are at least twenty. Some are fun and kind, like the Hufflepuff ghost The Fat Friar, and some are scary, like the Slytherin ghost The Bloody Baron, who is feared by even the chief mischief maker of the school, Peeves the Poltergeist. None of the ghosts are more prominently featured through the series than the Gryffindor house ghost, Nearly Headless Nick, or as he prefers – ‘Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington’.
Sir Nicholas was killed when an executioner failed to decapitate him properly, so his head is still attached to his body by half an inch of skin and sinew. He admits he was scared of death, so he chose not to move on, and came to Hogwarts where he became the house ghost who is called Nearly Headless Nick much to his sadness and displeasure. Very few students listen to him when he asks them to call him Sir Nicholas. He is talked about by students outside of school too, because Ron Weasley has already heard of him from his older brothers before joining Hogwarts.
From the Hogwarts ghosts, Nick is one of the more helpful ghosts, happy to help Gryffindors when they are lost or in trouble. This is seen when he convinces Peeves to drop a cupboard right above Filch’s office when Harry is caught by Filch who looks to take him to task for dirtying the castle. He’s also a competitive ghost, wanting Gryffindor to win the House Cup as after winning the House Cup six years in a row, the Slytherin ghost, The Bloody Baron was becoming unbearable. He’s also one of the more soft hearted ghosts, as he is unable to talk to the Baron who is one of the scarier ghosts at Hogwarts. Another place this shows is when Nick is irked because Sir Podmore denies his application for the Headless Hunt. He goes on a rant and calls Sir Patrick Delaney Podmore as Sir Properly Decapitated Podmore in his grim mood.
Sir Nicholas is kind too, for when Harry approaches him to ask about Sirius, he does tell him why he chose to linger and why Sirius would not, when he could might as well have just ignored Harry or told him a fib to put his mind at ease.
Sir Nicholas, being a ghost, has not eaten in years. And he does say that he misses it. It makes me wonder how he was administered the Mandrake Restorative Potion when he was petrified in the second book. It probably indicates a level of magic that Rowling doesn’t talk about in the series, but it leaves a doubt, that’s for sure.
(© 16th April 2016)