Professor Binns heard the bell ring. Or, to be completely accurate, he didn't so much hear the bell as wake up to it. His eyes fluttered open as the ringing died away, and he rose out of his chair, trying to remember the subject for today's History of Magic lecture. Was it goblins... or giants? No matter. There was always the Giant-Goblin War of 713. Or was it 512?
As he made his way through the corridors, he noticed that the old castle wasn't as drafty as it used to be. Perhaps, he thought, they'd finally started listening to him and done something about it.
He also noted, in a more absent fashion, that he didn't feel quite as heavy as he used to. In fact, he felt absolutely... light on his feet. That diet is really working out for me, he thought.
Professor Binns arrived at the door of his classroom and entered. If he'd been more observant than he was, he might have noticed that he didn't have to open the door to go through it.
He was teaching his first year Gryffindor class today. He always did like the Gryffindors. He'd been a Gryffindor himself when he was a lad. Or was it Ravenclaw? No, he surely was a Hufflepuff... maybe. At least he was certain he hadn't been a Slytherin. Perhaps.
At any rate, the class was seated already, so he began his lecture. He noted, with a surprised delight, that the students were paying far more attention to him than they had been before. Keep your flashy Animagus form, Professor McMiller, Binns thought, a good lecture is enough for them any day.
“Er, Professor?” A question! Dear Lord, that hadn't happened in... decades, at least.
He looked up at the girl who'd raised her hand. Ashley... Spinner. “Yes, Miss Spinner?” he asked with barely surpressed glee. Not that it was apparent in his voice.
“Are you feeling all right, Professor? You look a little...” the girl struggled to find a word.
“Dead,” one of the Williams twins suggested. Greg, Professor Binns thought.
“That's one way of putting it.”
“Now that's ridiculous,” Professor Binns snapped. This was not the question and answer excitement he'd looked forward to. “I feel as fine as I ever have.”
“But sir,” the other twin said. Francis. “You're a bit... see-through.”
Professor Binns looked down at his foot. Sure enough, it wasn't all there. Hmm. Curious. “I'll have the nurse take a look at me as soon as class is over. If there are no more questions?”
“Sir, I don't think Madam Pomfrey can help you with this,” Greg Williams insisted.
“Why not, Mister Williams?”
“Because you're dead!”
“Well, perhaps I'll get better.”
“With all due respect, Professor, you don't get better from being dead,” Angela Jonathon said. ““Being dead isn't exactly a temporary ailment.”
Binns frowned. He didn't recall dying. Even if his memory was slipping a bit, that's not something one forgets in a hurry. “Ridiculous,” he repeated. “Whatever my condition, I still have a class to teach. Now, the Giant-Goblin War of 713...” he began droning. The gazes of the students slipped away.
True to his word, after class, Professor Binns slipped to the Hospital Ward, carefully avoiding people on his way. “Nurse?” he called as he entered.
“Is that you, Professor OH MY LORD!” she screamed, dropping the tray of chocolate she'd been carrying.
“No, it's Professor Binns,” he said calmly, taking no notice of her reaction. “My students have been telling me I look a bit under the weather.”
“You are,” she agreed shakily. “Er... would you like me to prepare the body for burial?”
“Oh,” he said, disappointed. “So there's nothing you can do, then?”
“No. I'm afraid not. We should probably notify Professor Dumbledore, though,” the nurse said.
As if Summoned, the Headmaster appeared at the door. “What was that, Poppy?” Dumbledore asked, entering the room.
“I'm dead,” Professor Binns answered.
“Oh, that's a shame. Would you like me to read your eulogy?”
“No thank you, Professor. I'll take care of it. No one knew me better than I did.”
“Of course, Professor Binns. And will you still be teaching?”
Professor Binns, may he rest in peace, looked affronted. “Of course. Being dead doesn't subtract from my knowledge of history. Why, off the top of my head, I can think of several Goblin Wars. For example, the Goblin-Giant War of 317 lead into the Giant Goblin War of 320, which... Professor, are you awake?”