The forest was quiet. Only the sound of rustling leaves was to be heard. Sprawled like a sleeping giant, it had endured for many millennia, bearing silent witness to the events it had been a host of. So it had done in the past. And so it would continue to do in the future.
But this was no ordinary forest. All forests are bastions of nature, championing life in its most primal form. This forest, however, was home to some of the most dangerous magical creatures in the world; creatures that teemed the forest with a combination of life and magic unlike any other. Some born here, some brought in from distant lands, carried in the pockets of travellers.
Today, they too had decided to hold their silence. For magic had demanded it.
Magic. At least that was what it had been called over the years, a testament to its mysterious and unexplored nature. It was present everywhere and affected everything.
Many believed they had discovered it. Some tried to study it, attempted to control it. A few even claimed that they knew everything about it. And time and again, they'd been surprised by its chaotic nature; what they had named impossible feats of magic.
But that all was nought for the forest. For the forest did not bother with believing in magic; it simply breathed it. It owed its very existence to magic and would one day owe its demise to it as well. It was far too detached to partake in its feeble, worldly motions.
After all, today had been one of those days, when these remarkable, the so-called impossible had happened. Right here, in the bosom of the wild growths. And the forest had still remained silent.
The soft sound was heard distinctly in the clearing of the forest, lying adjacent to the large and imposing stone castle that stood beside it. In a way, it marked the entrance to the forbidden depths that lay further ahead. The sound had marked the arrival of a tall, bearded figure appearing out of thin air. Old leaves crunched beneath his solid boots as he took in a deep breath. He savoured the earthy and musty smell of the forest floor before turning and taking in the sight of the magnificent structure behind him, his eyes shining with melancholy.
Once a stronghold against those who would persecute magic and witchcraft, its builders founded a school within it for training and preparing the younger generations in the art of magic. Hogwarts, it was called by its founders—Lady Helga Hufflepuff of Wales, Lady Rowena Ravenclaw of Scotland, Lord Salazar Slytherin of Ireland, and Lord Godric Gryffindor of England; and it had housed the future of magical Britain for the past millennium.
'This is no time to reminisce,' he thought to himself. 'Especially when there is work to be done.'
Walking a few steps, he started scanning the forest floor beneath him. It had to be somewhere here. His eyes wandered between the scattered leaves, the spectacles framing them helping him focus. It might have taken someone else a much longer time to find what he was looking for, but he was well acquainted with the object in question; perhaps even more than its creator. After a while, he doubled back—and that's when he saw it. Lying in the dirt, just as unassuming as the day he had found it.
He bent and picked it up. For a fleeting moment, he hesitated, turning the stone once in his fingers.
Should he? One last time?
"No," the man spoke softly as his palm closed around it.
Its work was done. The stone had served its purpose. Some things were not meant to be disturbed. Not anymore.
Taking a deep breath, he pocketed it. Turning on the spot, he disappeared with another pop.
The man reappeared hundreds of miles away, landing softly on the gravel underneath. Beside him, a lone rose plant was swaying slightly in the salty wind. His throat constricted as he glanced at the burnt down house in front of him. In all honesty, he wasn't ready to return here; not yet anyway. But it had been the perfect place for the next step of the plan. So, he was here.
Straightening himself he walked inside briskly, only to be stopped by the sheer amount of destruction that surrounded him. A surge of emotions welled within him.
'No time for that now,' he reminded himself. Time was of the essence to the plan, and he didn't have much of it to spare. In fact he had none of it to spare, and it was probably impossible to complete it without being in two places at once. The longer he spent fighting his emotions, the longer it would take for it all to end. And it had to end today.
In spite of his efforts, an image of the house's previous owners found appeared in his mind. A multitude of memories that he had built here with them flooded in his thoughts, the sorrow trying to surface itself.
"It's alright." The man reassured himself, his face breaking into a sad smile. "Death is but the next great adventure, right?" he said out aloud to no one in particular.
His sight lingered on the charred walls and upholstery adorning the room, and on the chandelier covered with soot. The floor was littered with broken glass and burnt splinters, and ivy had crept in through the hole in the roof over the years. Sometimes he forgot just how long it had been since that day.
Shaking his head, he continued inside. Taking long, purposeful strides, he walked by the stairs to enter a small room on the left. It was once a small parlour and looked like the only room in the house to have received any attention over the years. The floor was cleared of all debris, and the sparse furniture inside was in good condition. Today it had been converted into a makeshift laboratory.
Looking around he saw that everything was right where he would need it. His friend had done an excellent job.
Taking the small, round stone out of his pocket, he placed it on the table before him. He then pulled a long, white stick out of the leather brace on his forearm; much longer than could physically fit inside it. Pointing the stick at the stone, he began to flick it in complex motions, as if he were unwinding an invisible string wrapped tightly around the dull, grey stone. After about two minutes of doing this, he exhaled audibly, his arm silently falling back to his side. It was time for the next step.
The man pointed the stick once more at the stone and gave an almost imperceptible flick; the stone rose silently in the air. It was important that he not touch the stone at this time. Concentrating on the levitation, he slowly moved the stone over the next table, where a large round-bottomed crystal flask stood on a brass stand. A flame burned underneath, the lime green liquid inside the flask simmering in its heat.
He hovered the stone over the mouth of the flask. After a moment—which seemed to last forever—he finally let it drop in.
The stone fizzled in the liquid, dissolving slowly, making no noticeable change to it. After a moment, the man stepped forward and stopped the burner underneath. Next, he aimed the stick in his hand straight inside the mouth of the flask and made a swift, scooping motion; the liquid inside disappeared without a trace.
"Alright," he remarked aloud. "That's it then."
Although it had all gone according to plan, he couldn't help finding it a bit anticlimactic. Chuckling, he slipped the stick back onto the brace on his arm. He glanced at all the stuff in the room. He would ask his friend to take it all back.
'Or maybe not,' he thought. Perhaps he would return here himself. It was long overdue anyways. Shaking his head, he put the thought out of his mind. All that would come later. Now it was time for him to be someplace else. Walking briskly out of the room, he came into the entrance hall.
Looking around, the thought crept back in and he made his decision. He would return in a week and start the work on his next project right here. It was time.
After all, that was what they would have wanted.
Smiling, he took in a long breath before leaving again in with a pop.
AN: Hello and welcome to The Three Brothers. This is Book One of Four and will cover Years 1-3 of Hogwarts. The story will stick close to the books in the beginning, with most events identical to canon being summarised for brevity. Major deviations in the story begin at the end of Year 1.
Obviously, the story has a slow buildup, and will be character-centric. I hope you enjoy it.
Feedback is welcome. Please read and review. Thanks!