The Nightmare Before Hogwarts
By: USA Tiger
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of J. K. Rowling. The Nightmare Before Christmas is the property of Touchstone/Disney and Tim Burton. Corpse Bride is also the property of Tim Burton and Warner Bros. Pictures. Beetlejuice is also property of Tim Burton.
Author Notes: I'm thrilled by how many people are interested in this story. I don't know if I will be able to update this everyday but I will try to since they're very short chapters.
Edit 5-10-18: This chapter has now been betaed by The Patient One.
The walk down the tunnel was a bit long, filled with many twists and turns. It was also a bit dull, the walls never really changed and the darkness both ahead of and behind Harry soon lost its scariness. Yet something in Harry kept wanting to push on, unwilling to just return to his cupboard and forget the whole thing.
Every now and then, Harry heard sounds from ahead, which had him turning the torch off and hiding with bated breath in the darkness, wondering if it was the monster that had started the whole thing or maybe some other creatures that may jump out and attack him. But Harry never saw any monsters or anything else, maybe a few worms in the dirt and a few spiders crawling along the wall but those things never bothered Harry.
He only took one break while in the tunnel, finally giving into the urge to use the bathroom and hoping it would go unnoticed. He wondered how much further he had to go… was it nothing but dirt and shadows? Harry was starting to doubt it would change and started considering turning around, maybe he could get back before the Dursleys discovered he had gone. Then he nearly tripped over a stone in the path. Harry stumbled and caught himself on the wall, shining his light around. The dirt tunnel had finally ended, transitioning into one made of stone and brick, all colored dark shades of gray and black.
Harry heard something ahead again and quickly turned off the flashlight, keeping one hand on the wall to guide him as he carefully walked, peering around a corner to see a patch of moonlight appear; the creature from before was there, it had opened up a door above it and was heaving itself out. Harry heard it move away, it hadn't closed the door behind it. His curiosity overpowering his fear, Harry snuck up and pulled himself up to peer out.
He was in a graveyard, filled to the brim with tombstones, iron fences, and dead plants. In the moonlight, Harry could see the monster that had been in his cupboard under the stairs more clearly, and he saw that the thing didn't seem to have any legs. Instead, its skinny waist was sitting on a board with wheels, one of which squeaked as the creatures rolled its way out of the graveyard. That had been the sound Harry had heard earlier that night.
Harry carefully looked around to make sure he was alone, and then pulled himself out of the tunnel. As he did so, he found that the stone doors were a part of a massive and macabre grave marker, a stone monument of a skeleton riding a rearing horse.
"Wow…" the boy whispered as he crept further into the graveyard. He had never been in one before, but he had seen the graveyard outside of the church he and his aunt passed whenever they went into town to do some shopping. Those graves, Harry remembered, were in neat little rows and with the exception of a few crosses and angels were more or less the same shape.
This graveyard, on the other hand, was messy looking. The graves were all different, crooked or crumbling to pieces. Harry saw several stone statues of faces that were wailing in despair or screaming in fear, statues of strange monstrous creatures, or of animals. Ahead of him was a hill that curled up into a spiral; Harry headed toward it, climbed to the top, and gasped as he got a good look around him.
He could see a small town nearby, filled with dark, crooked buildings. He could see pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns everywhere, and a huge dark forest sitting on the other side of the graveyard. Even farther in the distance, he could see a huge lone tree that seemed to have some sort of building built into it. It was creepy and utterly fascinating.
"Ruff ruff!" Harry jumped at the barking and turned around fearfully, he didn't have good experiences with dogs thanks to his Aunt Marge who raised scary bulldogs. But Harry's fear quickly turned to wonder, as it wasn't some big, vicious dog like Harry feared. It was a small white dog that looked like a glowing white sheet floating above the ground, and its nose looked like a tiny jack-o-lantern that glowed brightly. The ghost dog tilted its head to the side as it watched Harry.
"Umm… good doggy?" Harry whispered as he held his hand out hesitantly, did ghost dogs still bite and if they did, did it hurt? The boy's worries melted away as the ghost dog sniffed his hand and then barked happily, reaching up into his touch. Harry giggled as his fingers went through the dog's head, it felt like he was touching cool smoke, but still made the motions of petting. "You're a good doggy, aren't you."
The ghost dog barked and did a backflip making Harry giggle again. He noticed the bright red collar around the dog's neck and leaned down to read it.
"Z-z-ze-zero," Harry sounded out grinning as the dog ruffed happily. "Your name is Zero?"
"Ruff ruff!" Zero flipped again happily then turned and floated off in a hurry.
"Where are you going?" Harry asked, barely finishing his question before Zero came back with a stick that he dropped at Harry's feet. The boy picked it up, looking between it and Zero in confusion, he had never played fetch before so didn't understand. Zero looked at the stick then turned to look out over the graveyard then back at Harry, who still didn't understand.
"Ruff ruff!" Zero took the stick and tossed his head to the side, letting the stick fly then retrieved it bringing it back to Harry.
"Oh! You want me to throw it?" Harry asked. Zero barked, and Harry was sure he would be wagging his tail if he still had one. The tip of Harry's tongue stuck out as he tossed the stick down the hill. It didn't go far, Harry didn't have very good arm strength, but Zero barked happily and went after the stick, bringing it back to Harry. Harry giggled and happily played fetch with Zero for several minutes until he was caught off guard by a yawn, his hand coming up to cover his mouth.
"Ruff?" Zero barked as Harry shook his head and didn't take the stick back.
"Sorry Zero, I think I need to get home," he said as he rubbed his eye sleepily. (1)
Zero whined softly but didn't stop Harry as the boy headed back into the graveyard trying to find the stone door that lead back to the tunnel, following along after his new friend. But as Harry searched, he couldn't find the statue. He wasn't even sure what the statue had been. A horse, he thought? But there were many statues in the graveyard with horses on them.
"Oh, no…" Harry whispered as he looked around in fear, this time the feeling came from what his aunt and uncle would do when they discovered he wasn't in his cupboard. How was he going to get home? "Oh no, oh no, Zero I can't find where I came out at." Fear and adrenaline helped to wake Harry back up. "How am I going to get home?"
Zero whined and nuzzled Harry then took the end of the baggy sleeve of Harry's shirt and started tugging him toward the town.
"Zero, what are you doing?" Harry asked as he tried to stop the ghost dog.
"Ruff," Zero tugged again and got Harry to follow him. It became quickly became clear that Zero was leading him toward the town with the crooked houses they passed a sign that said 'Halloween Town' along the path. Harry hadn't seen the monster that he had followed, but he knew that it had been heading in this direction. Was this… a town full of monsters?
"Zero…" Harry whined as he tried to get the ghost pup to stop again but Zero was determined to get Harry to his master; Jack and Sally would be able to help, he was sure.
They came to an iron gate, the bars rusted and bent out of shape. Zero easily floated through the bars while Harry climbed through a gap with no trouble at all. Now that they were inside the town, Harry could hear music, which sounded dark and eerie yet at the same time upbeat and happy. As they neared the center of the town and the paradoxical music grew louder, Harry hid behind a stack of wooden crates and peered out.
The town was indeed filled to the brim with monsters, but being only 5, that was the most Harry could determine, having no exposure to many of the popular monsters that symbolized Halloween. Harry could see the monster that had frightened him under the stairs, standing next to a fountain that spewed green water. It was talking to a monster that looked like a man that was melting, a little short man wearing a trench coat and a tall hat, and what looked like a doggy man.
Harry looked around for Zero who had left him in the alleyway and quickly spotted the ghost dog as he floated up to a tall figure in the middle of the party. Harry gasped softly and hunkered down further into the shadows.
It was a tall, skinny skeleton wearing a black pinstriped suit and a bow tie in the shape of a large black bat. He was talking to a pretty lady with red hair who looked like she was stitched together and was wearing a dress made out of scraps of different cloths. Another figure was talking to him too, a short round man wearing a very tall top hat who had two faces, one happy looking and the other stark white with a sad face, which faced the back of his body. Luckily, the second face looked like it was asleep so it couldn't see Harry from where the boy hid.
Zero barked happily as he floated up to the skeleton man who greeted him with a wide smile— skeletons can smile?—as he reached down to pet the ghostly pooch.
(1) I don't think we're ever told just when Harry got his glasses so let's just say that for right now he doesn't have any.