While stuck with massive writers block for Obsessive Compulsive I came up with this incredibly odd story. Not too sure where I'm going with it so any ideas and constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated. No slash well not really anyway, some odd moments between Harry and Draco but that's about it. Rated R mainly for future graphic violence and such. Anything enclosed in 's and in italics means a characters thoughts and a row of 's means a pass in time or a shift between characters.
Flames will not be tolerated, merely laughed at, but reviews are greatly appreciated!
Disclaimer: After all this time, they're still not mine!
"Harry, Ron, Hermione, this is Edith Brooks with Witching real estate."
The trio glanced behind Ron's father, Arthur Weasly, the Minister of Magic, to the mentioned woman. She was tall and slender, in her late forties, and dressed entirely in black: A silk black blouse and pencil thin skirt. Her greying brown hair was pulled tightly into a braid. The bottoms of her thick black robes billowed out and draped across the floor as she sat after nodding a brisk hello.
Arthur gestured to the three seats across from the desk in which he and the woman, Edith, sat.
They took the silent invitation and settled themselves upon the wooden chairs, all the while wondering why they were called into a meeting for a 'special' assignment with a real estate agent of all things. Hermione decided to vocalize the group's question.
"Arthur said you wished to discuss a potential assignment with us Ms Brooks?"
The older witch nodded again, her grey eyes sweeping over them as is sizing up each one of them as she spoke.
"Yes Mrs Weasly. There is a very…how should I put this? Unusual situation." They all picked up on her uneasiness. "A very problematic situation as it is. I was told you three were the best Aurors for this type of job. Arthur highly recommended you."
"Well what sort of job would this be?" Ron questioned gathering his wife's hand in his. Hermione smiled lightly at him before directing her attention back to Edith.
The woman picked up the folder that had been sitting on her lap and sat it on the table.
"I'm assuming you all know of the Malfoy Manor?"
Ron raised an eyebrow. The three exchanged confused looks but nodded.
"Then I'm assuming you also know about the 'Malfoy Inferno' as the story has been called."
"Yes" Hermione answered "It happened in our seventh year at Hogwarts. During Christmas break I think. A huge fire broke out at the mansion…no one was left alive, the servants, the Malfoys. No one. It was in the paper"
"That's correct." Edith said.
"Wait, that happened almost ten years ago, what has it got to do with anything now?" Ron asked.
"Yes that's right Ron." Arthur answered "This is why it's a special case. Bodies have never been recovered from the site, indeed no one has ever been able to find any traces of remains even and because of this, stories have arisen. Stories that say the spirits of those of Malfoy Manor have found no rest because there bodies haven't. Malfoy Manor is reputed to be heavily haunted."
"Very dramatic dad." Ron said. "But those are just stories."
"There are some documented events." Edith interjected quietly.
"Even so why does that matter so much?" Hermione asked "there were ghosts at Hogwarts, and Arthur you yourself have a ghoul back at the Burrow."
"From the various accounts Mrs Weasly, we are not talking about just any sort of mere ghosts." Edith said "These are not playful tricksters or projections of lost memories but malicious and dangerous spirits."
"Yes but is this really a matter for Aurors though?" Harry spoke up for the first time.
"I don't believe you three really understand the situation." The older witches tone was annoyed. "We have already called another faction of the Ministry in, a specialist team for this sort of thing. Do you know what happened? They weren't even in there for twenty minutes before they ran out screaming. One poor girl was so traumatized she ended up being taken to St Mungos. We're still not sure what really happened as no one on the team will talk about it. We haven't been able to get anyone else in that faction on the case either. There is no one else Mr Potter."
"Well why not leave the place be?" Hermione inquired.
"Believe me I would love to do that, but a relative of the Malfoys, a cousin I believe, has inherited the estate and he is demanding that the place be…fixed as it were. He wants to sell it, make profit of it. He will not be content letting the house gather dust for another ten years."
"Then maybe he should do it himself." Harry suggested.
"He is prepared to pay a large amount of money for your efforts." Arthur said.
"How much is a large amount?" Harry asked.
"Two million Galleons." Edith said. "Each"
There was silence as Harry, Ron and Hermione considered this.
"That's a lot of money." Hermione said carefully.
"He is desperate to solve this problem." Edith said "At this stage all we are asking is that you spend one night, for that is when the activity is the strongest according to the reports. Just one night observing the place. We need to be sure that we are dealing with true spirit phenomenon or just a series of jokes or some other factor." Edith studied them carefully, trying to gauge their reactions.
"Of course you are not bound by a contract; you may leave the investigation at any time. Simply walk away and you will all still receive payment for your troubles. Full payment." Edith stressed.
Another moment of consideration and finally it was Ron who spoke up.
"Well…I suppose we could look the place over." He said glancing first at his wife then to his best friend.
The two nodded slowly in agreement.
"Then it's settled, excellent!" The witch rose from her seat gracefully.
"Since I am the estate manager for Malfoy Manor I will meet you three in Hogsmeade, outside the Three Broomsticks, at six pm tomorrow and take you there myself. Now you must excuse me I have many more pressing engagements to attend to today. It was a pleasure meeting you all." And with that she disapparated with a pop.
"Are you sure you three will be right with this?" Arthur asked wringing his hands together nervously. "I mean this is not a usual case, you don't have to do this."
"Dad I haven't seen you this nervous since election." Ron teased. "I'm sure it will be fine."
Hermione nodded. "I'm sure it's mostly exaggeration anyway."
"Yes…yes I'm sure your right. I'm just unsettled by the stories I suppose."
"We should be fine." Harry said. "It's not like we've never seen ghosts before…though I'm not sure how we are going to go about this. Exorcisms do you think? I've never done one of those before."
"I have some books on the subject at home." Hermione stated thoughtfully.
Ron turned to her surprised.
Ignoring her husband Hermione turned and addressed Arthur.
"We should really be going; we have a lot of study and preparation to do before tomorrow. We'll be at the apartment if you need us. We'll let you know how it goes."
With a loud crack She was gone.
"Wait when did we get books on exorcism?" Ron asked again.
Harry just shrugged before he apparated too.
Ron heaved a sigh as he took the folder Edith had left them from his father.
"She never tells me anything." And with that he too disappeared.
Arthur sighed, rubbing at his temples, as the stood up from his desk and started pacing.
Ever since he had become the Minister of Magic he had had to watch his son, his wife and Harry whom he had come to love as a son, go on various dangerous missions throughout their careers as Auroras. He worried about them every time. He was worried now.
At least before they had always had some idea of what they were going up against. This was different. If the stories were true…
He had heard a lot of stories of the supposed haunting of the Malfoy Manor. Gruesome stories at that. Heaven knows the Malfoy family had been malicious enough in life. What were they like in death?
He shuddered before berating himself.
(I must stop thinking this way. There have been accounts yes, but they've never been proven absolute. Besides they are all very capable Aurors. They will be fine…)
At least I hope so.
"I don't get it when did you buy these books again?" Ron asked as the three sifted through various books on spirits and exorcism. They had been researching for close to four hours now.
"More importantly WHY?"
"I thought they would make an interesting study." Hermione replied absently, immersed in one of the books.
"Its kind of odd though isn't it?" Harry said.
"What's odd?" Ron asked.
"Going to Malfoy Manor for one. Especially going there to investigate ghosts. I kinda feel like Ghostbusters."
Hermione snorted, lips twitching into a smile. Ron just looked confused.
"That was a muggle thing wasn't it?"
"Yes dear." Hermione said, abandoning her book in favour of browsing the files from Edith.
Inside were sparse contents, a couple of photos of the Mansion itself and various reports on sightings and incidents.
"Says here after the fire a caretaker for the estate saw a blonde teenager looking at her from the third storey window, the boy was covered in blood. I suppose that would be Malfoy then… Here's another one. Same caretaker also saw a woman sitting by a pond on the estate humming. That's not too bad… Screaming has been heard… Whispering, strange voices yada yada and so forth and so on. Sounds like a typical haunting to me. Not the satanic situation Edith and Arthur are making it out to be." Hermione shrugged, dropping the file back onto the table. She leant forward resting her chin in her hands.
"You know I always thought the Malfoy family would end up under investigation some day, just not this type and definitely not us doing the investigating!"
shook her head. "To be honest though I feel kinda bad about this
whole thing. I mean what right do we have digging around their house?
Shouldn't we let the dead be left alone? Left in peace?"
"Not when there's two million Galleons on the line."
"What? Its not like Malfoy was a dear friend or anything; we don't owe him a thing." Ron defended.
"That doesn't matter Ron. Malfoy was still a person. As big of a prat as he was he didn't deserve to die like that. None of them did. I still feel bad about making money off of the dead like this."
"At any rate." Harry said "we accepted the case and now we have got to see it through, besides I'm sort of curious now."
"I have to admit so am I." Ron said "anyway it should certainly be an experience don't you think?"
"We'll have to wait and see." Hermione said.
"Its going on ten past now." Hermione checked her watch.
"Where is that woman?" Ron complained "Do you think she's gonna come at all?"
"Don't know" Harry answered glancing up at the sky. The bright blue of the day was beginning to turn a shade of pale, pregnant pink, gold lacing the edges.
"Well while we're waiting you think we could get a drink?" Ron asked looking hopefully towards the door of the Three Broomsticks.
"I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long." A smooth voice interjected as the three turned and watched Edith stride up to them. Wrapped in thick black robes.
"Not at all, its fine." Harry said ignoring Ron's disappointed look.
"Good, so we will be apparating there of course, save time on travel. Malfoy Manor is located about twenty or so miles out of London. So lets go shall we?"
A couple of minutes later found them at the gates of a huge house. The massive black wrought iron gates did very little to hide the impressive sight of the old manor. The buildings façade had faded and aged, the gardens were untidy and overgrown. They could see that, despite the distance, the paint work around the windows and door frames had cracked and peeled, some of the tiles were missing from the roof and the guttering was loose in parts. Despite the fact that the house was obviously, in its state of deterioration, less grand than it was ten years ago it was still apparent to them that the house was once a beautiful place.
"Its quite large." Hermione commented.
"Indeed." Edith replied reaching into her robe pockets and withdrawing a heavy set of keys. She silently handed them to Harry.
"The largest one is for the gate and the one marked with a D is for the front door, the rest I'm sure you'll be able to work out. I hope you are wearing warm robes; it gets extremely cold out here at night. Be careful the inside of the house is not as safe as it once was, loose floorboards and such. I'll be waiting here around nine in the morning. You can report your findings to me then."
"Your not coming in?" Ron asked.
"Oh…n-no I don't go in at night." Edith said seeming very nervous now in the presence of the forbidding house.
The sky was gradually beginning to turn darker as the sun began to set.
Edith glanced up at the sinking sun and her nervousness seemed to grow.
"I really must be going now; I will see you all tomorrow." And without waiting for any response she was gone.
"Well that was a comforting response." Ron said sarcastically.
"Doesn't matter now lets just get to it." Harry said fitting the key into the gates lock and turning. There was a click and the latch slid aside.
It took both Harry and Ron to get the gate open enough for them to fit through, the heavily rusted hinges groaning heavily in protest. They took a moment to steal themselves before Hermione stepped through the gates taking the lead, Harry and Ron following a few moments later. Together the three made their way up the driveway towards the looming form of the oppressive house.
The shadows forming across its stone structure made it sinister in appearance.
Unbeknownst to them a figure watched from one of the windows.
A pale, almost transparent hand reached up and caressed the glass watching intently.
Its hollow grey eyes reflected a dark sort of amusement and undeniable cruelty.
The figures approaching the house were very familiar to him. Older yes, but definitely familiar.
He watched them reach the door.