A Visit to the Tower of London
• this adventure takes place inbetween books 5 and 6 of the Harry Potter series. It is the conclusion of my Severus and Arista series. Note, most events in HBP and DH are disregarded!
It rained buckets the afternoon that Arista Snape and her friends decided to visit the Tower of London, a place that had long been declared as the most haunted building in England. The castle had since been turned into a museum as well as the storage house for the Crown Jewels of Britain, which included the famed Star of Africa, a 530 carat diamond, the largest diamond in the world. But as it had stood for 900 years, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, it had acquired a darker history as a prison and a place of execution.
"Tell me again why we're here?" Kit Ambrosius muttered, looking around him at the tourists that hovered about him with utter boredom. "I mean, I've been here at least fifty times as a kid with my family and on class trips in primary school."
"Quit complaining, Ambrosius," Mel ordered, frowning pointedly at the sandy-haired boy, shaking her long curly dark hair out of her face. "We might have visited here loads of times, but Arista never has."
"Oh. Right," Kit sighed, giving Arista an apologetic grin.
Arista, though she was the daughter of Professor Snape, had been born and raised in America until she was thirteen, and she had never really taken the time to see London in all its majesty until this summer. "Sorry I'm boring you, Kit, but I figured today would be a good day to come here, since it was raining, and my dad's away." Professor Snape had gone off for a week on an assignment for their Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, leaving Arista and Trish, his adopted daughter, to their own devices for once. He had made both girls practically swear an Unbreakable Vow that they wouldn't have any wild parties or get into any trouble while he was gone.
Kit looked over at Drake Lockwood, the third member of their little gathering and said slyly, "Hear that, Drake? The professor's taken a short holiday, let's tell the neighborhood and have a party at Arista's."
"Go right ahead, Kit," Drake replied. He had short dark hair and gray eyes. "But then you get to explain to him why in blazes his house was destroyed, not me."
"Keep dreaming, Ambrosius," Trish snorted, brushing strands of blond hair out of her brown eyes. "He's probably got some kind of magical detectors hidden around the place that'll alert him if there're more than five of us inside the house and he'll Apparate back here and ground us all for life."
"Ground you two for life, you mean." Kit snickered. "He's not my father."
"Some friend you are, Kit," Arista scowled, and rabbit punched him lightly in the arm.
Kit held up a hand in mock surrender. "It was a joke, okay? You know damn well I'd never risk the professor's temper like that."
"Not to mention the fact that the only friend he's got besides us is his owl," teased Drake, smirking. "Real fun, us and Shadow, huh?"
Kit shot him a dirty look. "You're a real comedian, Lockwood." He glanced about and noted the tour group had moved off down the corridor. "Let's go up to the White Tower. That's where it's said you can see the ghost of Anne Boleyn sometimes."
"Ooo, scary!" Trish said, pretending to shudder in fear. "D'you think she walks around looking for her head?"
"No, all the reports of her ghost say she still has her head when they've seen her." Kit answered.
The others agreed and they made their way up the stairs to the White Tower.
"They say Anne Boleyn was murdered on false charges by Henry VIII," Arista murmured, her dark eyes narrowing slightly at the rain still coming down through the slit in the window. "That there was no real evidence she ever committed adultery with three men, one of whom was her brother George."
"Back then you didn't need evidence to convict somebody of a crime," Mel pointed out. "If you were powerful enough and had the king's ear, you could make up whatever you wanted and have that person arrested. It happened all the time. Henry was growing tired of Anne, since she couldn't give him a son and heir, and he knew she'd never permit him to divorce her the way he did his first queen, Catherine of Aragon. So he trumped up charges of adultery and witchcraft to get rid of her permanently."
"And don't forget he had his eye on Lady Jane Seymour too," Drake reminded. "That was a huge reason to remove Anne from his life."
"Real nice guy," Arista snorted. "Sounds like every girl's dream date," she said sarcastically.
"Poor Anne." Trish said softly. "No wonder she haunts this place, she was betrayed by everyone in the end, even her own family didn't stand behind her, they were all too afraid to go against the king. "
"And she was never really popular with the people, either," Mel spoke up. "They called her witch queen 'cause she had an extra digit on her left hand and had grown up in the French court, which was just swarming with undesirable men. And people with dark hair were regarded as sinister. Glad I wasn't born back then."
"Was she a witch, then?" Arista queried.
"Like us, d'you mean?" answered Tricia. All five of them were young wizards and attended the same school, Hogwarts.
"I don't think so. She'd be in the register as a witch then," Mel replied. "She was just unlucky enough to fall for a man like Henry, who was selfish, conniving, and cruel and who also happened to be king."
"He also executed his fifth wife, Catherine Howard," Kit recalled. "They say her ghost haunts the place too, running up and down the hallway screaming for help."
"Was she accused of adultery too?" Arista asked.
"Yeah. Only in her case, it was true." Drake answered. "The king tortured confessions out of her two lovers before he had them and her killed. She was only eighteen, I think."
By now, the tour guide and her group of eager students had moved off further down the corridor, leaving the five teenagers alone. Suddenly, Mel shivered. "Brrr. It's awfully cold in here all of a sudden." She cast a glance about at her companions.
"Got goosebumps, Seton?" teased Kit.
But Mel wasn't laughing. To her, the temperature in the White Tower had suddenly dropped about twenty degrees, and she could feel the presence of something coming. "Arista, can you sense anything unusual?" she whispered.
Arista lowered her shields a fraction, probing lightly with her empathic senses. In addition to being a magician, she was also an empath, and could feel and project emotions. "There's been a lot of blood spilled here," she murmured, shivering slightly. "Blood and death and darkness." She bit her lip, shivering also. "And sorrow, sorrow so deep and dark you could drown in it."
"An apt comparison, young wizard," whispered a soft voice from out of the air.
They all jumped about a foot, drawing their wands.
The air before them shimmered, resolving into a semi-solid phantasm of a young woman dressed in a long gown of midnight black with a small cap covering the back of her dark hair. Her face was pointed and not incredibly beautiful, yet she drew the eye. She gave a small smile, her eyes brimming with the sorrow Arista had spoken of.
"Hello, children. I am Anne Boleyn, who was once queen of this realm, once the beloved wife of King Henry VIII, before certain people poisoned his mind and heart against me. Welcome to the White Tower, the place of my last days."
"Merlin's beard!" Kit gasped, falling back a pace. "You really do exist!"
She laughed softly, a sad sound. "Oh, yes. I am bound to a half-life until the curse set over this place has been lifted."
"A curse? There's a curse here?" repeated Trish.
"A very old one, set in motion by all the deaths and blood spilled here. But recently, the curse has been altered, by the dark wizard called Dirk Wrackspur, who steals a portion of our essences nightly to use in his foul spells. He is a follower of Tom Riddle, the Dark Lord, and was given the name the Ghost Master, though he is not so much a master as a thief! He steals but he does not truly command." Anne's lips tightened in distaste. "We of the Tower do not serve him willingly, and we ask your help in freeing us from his influence."
"Us? You want us to help you?" Drake repeated in astonishment. "But we're students, why not ask an adult wizard?"
"Because none of the adult wizards here is a ghostwalker."
"A what? What's a ghostwalker?" Arista asked.
"A wizard that possesses a very rare talent to summon, command, and transform into a ghost." Anne answered. "One who can walk between this world and the spirit realm at will. There has not been one in, oh, over five hundred years, I would say. The last one died at the hands of another dark witch, the ancestor of the one you know as the Dark Lord, Voldemort. He would not be pleased to learn that a ghostwalker has been born anew, he considers himself the authority on death, the arrogant fop!" Anne laughed mockingly. "But even with all his power, he cannot do what a ghostwalker can."
"Forgive me, Lady, but none of us have this talent," Arista began.
Anne looked amused, one eyebrow lifting. "Oh, but you do, child. I am not mistaken in this, Arista Snape. We can always sense the presence of a ghostwalker, even one who is brand new to her powers."
Arista gaped at her. "What are you saying? That I'm a ghostwalker?"
"No. Not you. Your friend over there." And she lifted a finger and pointed straight at Mel.