Prologue: Dead in the Dining Room
A/N: Hi there! Thanks for clicking on my book, I hope you enjoy it :) This first chapter is designed to be short and slightly mysterious, so it probably won't make sense until a few chapters time. This is my first Fanfiction, it'd be great to see what you think in a review, I don't have many, and, being honest, they're the only thing that keeps me going! The pace is slow at first, but I'm just warming up, soon Team Free Will will be causing chaos at hogwarts!
All is silent in Little Hangleton as two figures creep across dew-soaked grass; one clutching a faltering torch, the other holding a wand aloft, a pale, blue-white orb alight at the end. An owl hoots in the distance, the wind whispers in the trees, and a hissed obscenity is heard as one of the shadows stumbles over a branch felled by a long-forgotten storm. In the moonlight, on the winding street across from the field, a car gleams faintly in the darkness. Experts might be able to pinpoint it as a Chevrolet '67 Impala in mint condition, recently waxed with a new carburetor. To the untrained eye, however, it's simply a frickin' cool car.
The intruders go unnoticed as they make their way through the night, heading for a tumbledown cottage in the grounds of the English mansion. No doubt they saw the lights; the small building contrasting so starkly with the distant, looming shadow of Riddle House. But they're not going to find a cosy little home with a fire crackling in the grate and a wolf dressed as harmless old granny ready to eat you alive. The Muggle who lived there may be silent now, but Frank's scream still hangs in the air. And they can feel it.
'Ugh, it's that smell.'
'That smell of old people...old people and their old people clothes and old people shoes and all that other old people crap.'
'Oh come on, it's only mothballs.'
'You saying you like it?'
'No, I'm saying that you're overreacting.'
'Well if you had any sense of smell you'd be 'overreacting' to this as well.'
'Who said I don't have a sense of smell?'
'No one, you just don't. Now come on.'
They enter the cottage cautiously, creeping across the floors. One treads slowly upstairs - he's tall, with long dark hair, and holds a wand in one hand and a knife in the other. The other man moves swiftly through the downstairs level, scanning the rooms with glinting green eyes, jaw set in what appears to be constant expression of stubbornness. His hands grip a machete and a torch, and he looks as if he's in a state of extreme discomfort, mostly indicated by the fact that two fingers on the torch-holding hand are busy pinching his long nose.
'Well, here's no one in here.' He calls, turning off the torch and slipping his knife away. There's a thumping behind him, and his companion appears. 'Looks like the old guy went out.' He continues, addressing it to the man at his dude. He scans the room before reaching to turn off the screaming kettle on the hob, at the same time as the tall one's eyes flicker as they come to rest on the back door that hangs slightly open in the breeze.
'Yeah,' He answers, and nods to the door. 'And he left the back door unlocked.'
The other one looks up, then back to the stove, raising his eyebrows. 'And he left the kettle on,' He says, 'What kind of Brit leaves the kettle on?' His voice became touched with sarcasm. 'Man, I knew this was trouble.'
"Come on." The other calls, treading forward slowly. He whispers under his breath as he opens the door and enters the night, a pale orb brightening at the end of his wand once more. 'Lumos,' He hushes softly, the shifting sound carried away on the wind as they make their way up the winding track towards the ominous silhouette of Riddle House. His companion follows him with a heavier read, his footsteps sounding loud on the damp earth. Somewhere in the darkness of Riddle House, a shadow shifts.
"Well I sure think Ghostfacers missed out on this one." The burly one remarks as they draw closer to the mansion, his eyes scanning the foreboding outline ahead. 'So we're looking for what's-his-face in a creepy ass mansion? Are you sure Bobby didn't give us the wrong lead and has us after the ghost of the servant died whilst acting as footstool for Mr and Mrs I-have-more-money-than-everybody-else?'
The tall one sighs, walking towards the front door. His companion follows, still inspecting the outline of the house. 'First off, we're not looking for You-Know-Who, we don't have a death wish. We're scanning the area because MACUSA traced his parentage back to the Riddles, the couple who lived in the house before. Bobby thought there might be some connection to the people; thought the old groundskeeper might know something.'
'The groundskeeper whose house we just broke into? Well he's sure gonna wanna tell us cosy tales about these 'Riddle' people cuddled up by the fire now.'
'Well if we do manage to find him, I doubt the tales will be 'cosy', anyway.'
'The couple who lived here? They were found dead in the dining room in the '40s.'
'Dead in the Dining Room? Is that the new reality show where they throw a bunch of ghosts in the room and make them eat dinner together?'
'Get this - the cops couldn't find a cause of death. Their hearts just stopped. According to the report, it was like they were 'scared to death'.'
'Wait - so you're saying these people had ghost sickness?'
'What? No, of course not - do you know anything about magic?'
'What do you think?'
They've reached the front door, and the conversation stops. The silence is eerie as the shorter one moves to slam against the front door, the other whispering an incantation to make his wand light brighter. The words 'Lumos Maxima' are lost in the sound of the door flying open, but then quiet falls once more. The air is still, the wind no existent within the walls of the house. Neither of the pair say anything as they move to enter. Creaking footsteps - their own - break the atmosphere, but there's still an uneasy heaviness hanging in the air.
'Okay, there is no way I would let the Ghostfacers get at this place. There's something downright creepy about it.' The burly one clicks his torch on and kicks open one of the doors that line the impressive entrance hall, peering into an ancient room.
His partner follows, eyes resting upon the long table draped in mouldy sheets, the chairs lined up against the window. 'This is the dining room,' He whispers, his gaze flickering as he takes in the room. He lifts up his wand, illuminating the dark room. 'This is where they died." He steps forward, his footstep soft on the rotting carpet. 'Wonder how long it's been like this for.'
Wait -.' His partner holds out a hand and looks at him, eyes uneasy. 'Did you hear that?'
Distantly, something creaks. And again. And again. The unmistakable sound of someone creeping across the floorboards above.
The pair exchange glances, and brace themselves. Moving out of the dining room, they find the stairs, the shorter one leading the way, the other watching his rear. They extinguish their lights, and move silently. The thing that can now be heard is the slow but sure sound of the footsteps.
Their own movement is muffled by the heavy coating of dust on the stairs as they climb to the second floor. The tall one nudges his partner, and points downwards. Heavy in the dust, lie a dozen footprints, one on each stairs. Leading upwards.
When the reach the landing, the noises stop. They stop. There's a grunt, and then everything is silent.
At the end of the landing hallway, a door lies open, and the dark outline of something lying on the floor at the entrance can be seen. The men exchange glances. They know that familiar shape; the slump, the angle, the single arm outstretched across the floor. It's a body. And, judging by still it lies, it's quite possibly a dead one.
The tall one hurries forward, still careful, but louder in movement, reaching the body and taking the arm in one hand, checking for a pulse. He looks to his companion, who's busy checking the rooms along the landing, and shakes his head.
'It's the muggle.' He says quietly, the other man arriving next to him at the body, 'The guy's dead. Doesn't look like he died that long ago.'
'You think whoever was here before killed him?' The burly one runs his torch over the room, and takes in the glowing embers in the grate, the sheets thrown off the furniture, the armchair moved to face the door.
The tall one looks up, and registers what the other has realised. 'Maybe… I dunno. He could have just had a heart attack or something.'
'Yeah, he could have had a heart attack. And maybe he had one because he ran into something that was already in here.'
'Well they could have just been junkies breaking in - I mean, I wanna find something here just as much as you do, but -"
'Look,' the other guy interrupts him, shining his torch into the corner of the room and stepping over the dead body to walk across the room. He picks a piece of material up off a chair, and holds it up for inspection. 'It's some kind of cloak, and I highly doubt a junky would wear one. Only people like your weird friends wear crap like this.'
'Hang on,' His partner crosses the room, eyes alight as something catches his eye. 'Pass that here a second.'
The one clutching the cloak shrugs, raising his eyebrows, and hands it to his companion. There's a moment of silence as the other inspects it, holding his wand light over the item, then he sheds a gasp of surprise. 'Oh my god - look - on the clasp.'
The burly one peers at the silver cloak fastening, and creases his brow. 'Okay, so there's skull with a… snake? coming out of it carved into the metal. So what?' A slight smile twitches on his face and he holds the fastening closer. 'Heh. Actually quite cool if you ask me.'
The other man reaches forward and slaps his hands, taking the cloak from. 'Don't you know what this means? That symbol is the sign of You-Know-Who - You-Know-Who and his followers.'
'Wait - so you mean.' Suddenly, the footsteps from before were remembered, and the two men exchanged glances of horror.
'Right,' The burly one started forward, stride determined, knife in hat. 'I'm gonna gank this son of a bitch once and for all.'
'Stop it, you idiot You're gonna get us killed!' His partner grabbed the other one's arm, twisting him round. 'Do you know anything about this mission? Or who we're up against For all we know, there could be five frickin' Death Eaters prowling around downstairs!'
All the other one did was snigger. 'Death Eaters..' He chuckled under his breath. 'Death Eaters? They must be part of Dead in the Dining Room crew as well.'
'Dean, we have to get out of here. Now.'
'Fine, fine. But we're gonna have to face these asshats someday. Snap us out of here, Sammy.'
A sharp crack rang through the house. A snake slithered over the cold body of Frank Bryce. The room was empty, the men gone. But they had not been alone.
From behind the sheet-covered chairs in the corner, a man emerges in shadows. He surveys the room with cold-blooded hatred, and kicks the dead body in the doorway. He turns back. Flicks his tongue over his thin lips. And then, he too, is gone
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