If you like what you read, consider donating to help me support my family.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What the Hex is Going on?


It was just after dark and the gang was driving along a road in a rather dead and eerie looking forest.
Harry was behind the wheel, a fairly attentive driver since he'd just got his muggle license not too long ago. He looked around at the road signs and nodded his head. “Well, we're almost to the Parkinson Estate,” he informed them conversationally.
Hermione hummed as she consulted the map. “It surprisingly nice of Pansy to ask us up here for the weekend. And we have a chance to take a road trip while we're at it.”
Draco shrugged indifferently. He was sitting in between Harry and Hermione in the front seat of the gigantic vintage cargo van, and he was getting impatient to arrive. He muttered why couldn't we just apparate under his breath before making an effort to be nice. “There are so many interesting things to do in the area. I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun.”
Ron was sitting in the back of the van, about to eat a tall sandwich that he just finished making. They could all tell that he was hungry because it seemed to be all he could think about. “Yeah? Like what? Swimming and eating? Tennis and eating?” Gregory Goyle – also sitting in the back of the van – surreptitiously reached for the sandwich. “Driving and eating? And eating and ea – huh?!” Ron exclaimed when he went to take his first bite and realized that Greg had stolen his sandwich.
Greg gulped the sandwich down practically in one bite and made a show of licking his fingers clean. Ron was devastated and a bit horrified. “How do you like that?”
Harry slowed down and pointed out his window. “Hey, look up there!”
They all shifted around to look and see a creepy old mansion. It was shaped like an L or a 90 degree angle. The middle – where the L or the angle formed a point – had a round tower-like room. Since it was night, it looked dark brown. There was a grassy court yard. Sort of elegant or refined.
There was an ominous feeling and a slight fog in the air, plus moaning, wailing, and creepy calling. Off to the right of the house, there was a graveyard with a small mausoleum. A bat flew away from it, screeching shrilly.
A man in a brown business suit with a white dress shirt and black tie; with short brown hair and a well-groomed beard, and thick, circular, black glasses walked through the graveyard. His hands were stretched out in front of him like a zombie, but his steps were rather quick, if a bit stilted. They watched the man until he was walking right in front of the house.
Draco shuddered lightly. “Merlin and Salazar! Someone's going into that rundown old mansion. Don't they know that it's probably full of dark curses from long dead pureblood families?”
Ron frowned and scratched his head. “Whoa... Who'd do a mental think like that?”
Greg shook his head slowly, baffled. “I don't know.”

***

They arrived at the Parkinson Estate about twenty minutes later, which – even in the dark – looked gleaming white and pretty. The entryway was tall and spacious with roman columns for decoration. It was a rectangular building with two levels. To each side of the entrance was a pronounced wing – which people with normal sized houses simply called sides.
Surrounding the mansion was a rather nice, well-groomed yard with decorative bushes, but also some scraggly looking trees. This was rather surprising on a magical property where charms helped the plants thrive no matter the season, so Hermione was willing to bet they had some sort of tree disease. Too bad Neville wasn't with them.
Inside the parlor, Pansy greeted them with a sneer. “Gee, it sure took you long enough! I could have gone to the spa and had a mudbath in the time it took you to arrive!” She had her hands clenched into fists and pressed into her hips as she glared at them.
She was wearing a simple, sleeveless, above knee-length summer dress in turquoise with a black belt. Draco knew that she had thrown on something casual to wait in until they arrived. They'd likely change into something sexier when they figured out what they wanted to do first.
I do hope this wasn't the wrong weekend for you to come up here,” she growled softly to let them know that she had reached the limit of her patience.
Harry frowned curiously. “Why's that, Pansy?”
Mr. Parkinson, her father, sighed a bit wearily. “Well, the last few nights, we've been hearing a lot of strange noises.” He was wearing shades of blue with a slightly lighter dress shirt and a darker jacket and matching trousers. He was also smoking a pipe.
Pansy rolled her eyes, not quite able to believe that her father thought that was the important part. “And now, it looks like my Uncle Stewart has vanished.”
Greg yelped nervously at that.
Draco stroked his chin in thought, wanting to help his best friend. “Could it have been him that we saw going into that old mansion down the road?”
Mr. Parkinson tilted his head to the side as he wondered what Draco was referring to. “Do you mean the Kingston Mansion? Maybe we'd better go over there and see.”
Uh-uh!” Greg said in a tone of slightly scared denial. He shook his head and adamantly repeated. “Uh-uh!”

***

The next thing Greg knew, they were all standing outside the creepy old mansion. He sighed in reluctant acceptance.
Pansy called out in clear concern for her favorite uncle – even though he was eccentric and practically a squib. “Uncle Stewart! Uncle Stewart!”
Ron looked around carefully. He thought that something felt off, but he couldn't put his finger on what. “You know, there's no sign of him anywhere.”
Draco noticed something and pointed his wand at the underside of the central tower so he could cast a Lumos. “Look! Someone's in the shadows!”
A mildly creepy, haggard older man with a brown suit, white hair/beard, and thick black glasses startled them. He looked rather shaken up. Greg yelped in alarm.
Pansy exclaimed in shock, dismay, and a bit of horror. “Uncle Stewart!”
Mr. Parkinson murmured in surprise: “He's become an old man...”

***

Back in the Parkinson Mansion, Stewart was now sitting dejectedly in a high back purple armchair. His right hand was holding the side of his head while his left was clutching the arm of the chair.
Mr. Parkinson stared at his brother in concern. “What happened, Stewart?”
Stewart, sounding and looking depressed, didn't even glance up. “It started when a ghostly voice called out from the old mansion. I had to obey it.” His eyes went vague and far away as he remembered what happened. “It drew me out of the house. I was in a trance. I went past the Kingston Mausoleum … and finally, into the old mansion. … And there... is where I saw the ghost of Elias Kingston. He... He appeared as a man with black hair, alarmingly blue skin on his face and hands, beady black eyes, and he was wearing a brown trench coat reminiscent of that old fictional muggle detective: Sherlock Holmes.”
Now Stewart looked up for a moment. “The Kingston Mansion was full of large cobwebs. The furniture was covered with sheets to protect it from dust, and yet it looked rather clean and elegant in places; the chandelier sparkling and the curtains drawn open. In other places, things are just lying around and it's quite derelict.”
Stewart looked down into his lap. “The ghost of Elias said: The Parkinson Fortune belongs to me! Unless it is returned to this mansion before morning, the entire family shall suffer this terrible fate! Then he waved his hands at me as if dramatically casting a spell – without his wand! I turned from the middle aged man I was to the old man you see now.”
Stewart's right arm was now propped on the arm of the chair, holding up his head. He looked a cross between depressed and resigned. A heavy sigh escaped him.
Pansy glared at everyone for a second as if daring them to make fun of her favorite uncle so that she could hex them. “What are we going to do?”
Mr. Parkinson walked over to his fireplace. “First of all, I'm going to call the Aurors.” He put his hand in a bowl and grabbed a pinch of powder to toss in the fire, but then nothing happened. “That's strange; the Floo's dead!”
Hermione frowned in thought as she cast spells to see if she could reverse Stewart's age – to no avail. “Why don't you Apparate to the Ministry and get an Auror, Mr. Parkinson? We'll wait here.” She gave him a look meant to seem helpful and reassuring. Calm and unafraid.
Harry nodded in agreement. “We'll keep an eye on Uncle Stewart until you get back.” He looked concerned and determined and serious. Every bit a leader/person in charge.
Mr. Parkinson was hesitant. “Are you sure you'll be alright?” He was still staring at the fireplace as if hoping it would miraculously start working again.
Harry nodded confidently. “Sure, and just to make sure nothing else happens, we'll all take turns standing guard.” He was still determined and serious, reminding them all of the time that he defeated Voldemort.
Draco looked torn between being bored and resigned to the inevitable. Hermione looked ready for anything. Ron had a slight smile, probably because he didn't think they could get into too much trouble in this nice safe mansion where there was probably food. While Greg looked alert and a bit happy for some reason.
Draco decided to play along and looked at Harry. “Who's going to stand the first watch? And why can't we just set a monitoring spell on Uncle Stewart once we've put him to bed and warded his room?”
Harry answered the first question first. “Who else? The Watchdog.” He smirked playfully as he pointed in Greg's direction. Then he muttered: “And who said we wouldn't have a ward against intruders?”
Greg looked over at Harry. “Right, the watchdog,” he agreed, and then it hit him what Harry meant and he did a double take of apprehension and dismay; one hand rubbing over the other in a self soothing gesture. “That's me?!”
Harry was still pointing at Greg, but now it was rather sternly. “That's right! That's you.”
Hermione, trying to be reassuring but sounding a bit gleeful, added: “Just think Greg, no ghostly voice will get past your keen sense of hearing.” This was a reference to the reason that Greg was so good as a low skilled security guard for a muggle company. All he had to do was walk around the building he was guarding (at night) and listen for anything out of the ordinary. He always caught intruders, even when they thought they weren't making a sound.
Even so, Greg was a bit of a coward at heart. He promptly took off running away from them. Also an incorrigible practical joker, he grabbed a prop – an old horn meant to aid with hearing – returned, and held it to his ear to pretend like he couldn't hear what they had said. “Eh?”
Harry grabbed the horn and smashed it onto Greg's head. “That old hard of hearing trick isn't going to work tonight, Greg.”
Greg grinned and laughed sheepishly – also shrugging as if asking: well, can you blame me for trying?
Maybe a half an hour later, Stewart was dozing in the purple armchair while Greg was laying on a couch, sound asleep and snoring. An open french style patio door let in a rather strong breeze and the insistent ghostly moaning/wailing from earlier. Stewart – now awake – sat up abruptly, looking a bit pained to hear that horrible sound again.
Ghostly voice called out: “Come! Come!”
Stewart stood up and started walking toward the open door, his hands once again stretched out in front of him like a zombie. Greg had charmed a tiny stuffed bear to let him know if anything happened, and it tapped him until he woke up and saw that Stewart was no longer in his chair.
Greg was immediately alert and confused. “Huh? Where'd he go?” He looked around thoroughly. Not finding Stewart, he rushed to grab a horn off the wall – under a curved short sword – and sound an alarm. Comically standing at attention like a soldier.
Harry called out after they all Apparated into the room. “Hey, what's with the bugle call, Greg?”
Greg rolled his eyes and scoffed. “What do you think? He's gone!”
Hermione tutted. “Uh-oh! It looks like Uncle Stewart is gone again!” She appeared to be smirking as if she was having fun now that something interesting was happening.
Draco glared at her. “He's not the only one; Pansy's gone too!” He was genuinely concerned about the disappearance of his best friend, touchy bitch though she may be.
But where could they be?” Ron asked, also wearing a look of concern.
We'd better get ourselves up to that old mansion,” Harry stated, looking a bit angry.
And fast!” Hermione agreed, still looking rather eager.

***

Once at the old Kingston Mansion, the gang was walking along in a group, except for Ron, who was wearing skates and rolling behind them.
Draco sighed, still very worried about Pansy. “I don't see any sign of Pansy, Uncle Stewart, or the ghost!”
Ron snorted in amusement. “Maybe we're in luck and he's out haunting another house.”
Hermione tilted her head to look at her boyfriend over her shoulder. “Say, what've you got on your feet? Muggle roller skates??? Why are you wearing those silly things?”
I'm not taking any chances,” Ron said with a solemn shake of his head. “If we do see that ghost, he'll never catch me!”
Er Ron... You know that ghosts can't really hurt you, right?” Hermione pointed out with a frown.
Ron rolled his eyes. “You don't really think I'm so thick as to think it's a real ghost, do you?”
Draco looked away to hide the fact that he thought exactly that. He also muttered very softly: “Well...
Harry chuckled at his boyfriend's subtle insult. “Come on, let's keep looking.”
Greg was sneaking along, looking like he was pretending to be a bloodhound. “Huh?” He murmured as he noticed a tall, wide curio cabinet/book shelf with glass doors containing a lot of books. Something about it seemed weird to him, but he couldn't figure out why.
They continued walking past it – Greg having decided that it wasn't so weird after all. After they'd gone past, it slid aside to reveal a secret room. In the room, Pansy was sitting on a plain wooden and unsurprisingly uncomfortable chair with her hands tied behind her back and a gag in her mouth. The blue skinned ghost peeked out of the room, looking at Pansy's friends, who were oblivious to what was going on.
The ghost decided to quietly follow them, and the cabinet slid back into place – closing up the secret room. At this point, the gang drifted apart without saying a word about it. They didn't even realize they had done it, as evidenced a moment later when Ron talked to Hermione as if she was right behind him.
He had stopped rolling along to bend over in front of an empty fireplace and look in a medium sized pottery vase. “I wonder if ghosts can hide in little pots?”
The very blue ghost picked up a small bellow sitting in front of the fireplace and squeezed it to send a gust of air at Ron's rear. He was startled so much that he went skittering across the room. He cried out Wa and Whoa repeatedly as he desperately tried to regain control over his skates. His arms were flailing and trying to maintain balance at the same time.
He ended up skating into a separate room and landing in a bathtub. Since this was an old Wizarding home, the shower hanging over the large, deep, claw foot tub was charmed to turn on when entered, thus it abruptly began showering him even though he certainly hadn't turned it on. He didn't have time to turn it on as he was landing on his butt. He laughed and shivered – because the water both tickled and was cold. He had no ability to get out of the tub – which was rapidly filling – without slipping and falling. So, he had to take the time to remove his skates, all the while chuckling and muttering abut his luck.

***

At the same time, Greg was looking through a door warily, as if he expected an attacker to be lurking around the corner. He exclaimed in delight when he realized that he'd found the kitchen. “Woohoo! Food!” He repeatedly licked his lips hungrily; after all, he hadn't eaten since he'd stolen that sandwich from Ron in the van.
He ran up to the Wizarding equivalent of a refrigerator – an ice box charmed to stay cold, when it worked. Excitedly, he yanked it open, only to find a large soup bone covered in cobwebs. This did not deter him as one might think. “Oh boy oh boy oh boy!”
He grabbed the bone, obviously happy to have it. He then blew the dust off of it. A short but mean sounding gray pitbull entered the kitchen and snarled at him. Without giving it even a moment of thought, Greg shoved the bone in the pitbull's mouth and took off running. The pitbull crunched the bone in one bite and gave chase.
Greg hid under an overturned half barrel, and then tried to sneak away when the pitbull wasn't looking. The blue hand of the ghost emerged from behind a curtain dividing the kitchen from the larder or cellar, and pointed at Greg with a hissed: “Psst! Psst!”
The pitbull cleverly got the hint and looked over at Greg – who was just now making his way out the kitchen door that he had initially come in through. The pitbull gave chase once more as Greg managed to go through another doorway and hide off to the side – just in time to slam the half barrel on top of the pitbull, thereby trapping him and possibly knocking him out. Greg walked away feeling rather proud of himself, even chuckling in glee.
The pitbull recovered himself with a shake, but couldn't get out from under the half barrel. Instead, he tried running around blindly.
Meanwhile, Ron had just barely emerged from the bathroom, looking at himself and his sopping clothes in mild disgust. “Wow, how soggy can a bloke get?” He cast a drying charm and sighed in relief when it worked.
The trapped pitbull came barreling into Ron, knocking him all the way back into the tub. Which of course reactivated the shower. The tub was still rather full from before, but at least now, the water was decently warm. Ron draped his right arm so that it was resting on the side of the tub along with his left elbow. He then propped his chin on his left hand as if resigned to the inevitable, not surprised in the least to find himself in a tub with a strange dog – who didn't seem upset with Ron – despite being an intruder. Actually, the pitbull was rather embarrassed and dismayed to find himself in a bath. He yelped as if crying out: Sorry!
Ron grumbled to himself wryly: “If there's one thing I can't stand, it's taking a bath in a haunted house.”

***

Later on, the gang had reunited. Harry had his fists pressed into his sides in determination. Draco had his hands resting calmly at his sides and looked like he was trying to look sexy and distracting while listening to his boyfriend. Hermione had her hands behind her back, looking attentive and ready for anything. She also looked amused, like she knew a secret the rest of them hadn't figured out yet. Both Ron and Greg looked to be in a good mood, having light smiles.
Harry grinned and congratulated Greg. “Whether you know it or not, Greg, you found our first clue!”
Greg looked baffled and surprised. “I did?”
Hermione, now rather serious, for once, tried to reassure him. “Sure! Whoever heard of a ghost needing a watchdog to scare anybody away?” She looked from Ron to Harry and then back to Ron again.
Ron, looking more disappointed and upset than relieved like they assumed he would be, asked: “You mean there aren't any ghosts here?”
Harry smirked, finally looking like he was in a good mood. Possibly happy or mischievous, or maybe just smug because he seemed to be figuring things out. “Well, I haven't seen any. Yet.” Inexplicably, he pointed to the ceiling.
Draco held back a laugh as he assumed that Harry was just trying to playfully wind his best friend up. Then he remembered that Pansy was still missing and sighed. “And we haven't seen Pansy or her Uncle either.” He was currently standing so close to Hermione that they could be arm in arm. Hermione was frowning and finally looked like she understood that the situation was tense.
On the other hand, Ron was looking puzzled and a bit morose. “Hey, was Uncle Stewart wearing a blue suit, red tie, and tennis shoes?”
Actually, he wasn't. He was wearing a brown suit, black tie, and black dress shoes. It was Mr. Parkinson who was wearing a blue suit, blue shirt with no discernible tie, and black dress shoes. It was very unlikely for any pureblood worth his salt to wear tennis shoes. However, no matter how much Ron tried to correct himself, some sort of minor curse made it impossible to say anything different. Fortunately, everyone seemed to understand his predicament.
Harry looked over at Ron curiously. “Yeah. Why?”
Shaggy covered his eyes and pointed down at a chair off to his side. “Then I think we found him, only he looks a little older now!”
It was another purple armchair – strangely, exactly the same as the one he was sitting in before, back in his own home. However, he was now a skeleton, a very dry and old looking skeleton.
Harry had his left hand casually in his pocket. He didn't look surprised, although he sounded it. “Well! I guess that ghost wasn't kidding!”
Hermione, now standing next to Harry and calmly looking at the skeleton, remarked with a wry little laugh. “That's just about as old as you can get!”
Greg whimpered a bit loudly when he saw the skeleton. He never did like being around anything dead. Or dying.
Harry frowned and sighed in frustration. “It sure would help if we could find another clue.”
Ron droned for a second or two. “Er... Uh-huh, I found one.” He was pale and a bit freaked out as he pointed over his shoulder – which now had a blue hand resting on it.
Harry grinned. “Brilliant! What is it?” He looked over at Ron expectantly.
Ron rolled his eyes and shook his head, thinking: duh! “Him.” This drew everyone's attention to the stern looking 'ghost' with morbidly blue skin.
Harry, Draco, and Hermione exclaimed in unison: “It's the ghost!” They were alarmed and surprised to see something solid standing there. Meaning that someone was trying to swindle the Parkinsons and doing a terrible job of faking a ghost.
Greg was gaping at the 'ghost' in shock, not remembering that he had seen many a real ghost at Hogwarts and wasn't particularly afraid of them. “Ghost!” He cried out in genuine fear and promptly ran away. He hid in a closet and placed a hastily conjured 'out to lunch' sign on the door before he slamming it shut.
The rest of the gang was gaping at the fake ghost during his ultimatum with their mouths open. Ron looked rather puzzled, like he was wondering why the so-called ghost hadn't attacked him earlier. Harry was downright gobsmacked, probably because he had believed that this whole thing had been an entertaining but mythical mystery – until now. Draco looked mildly astonished that the ghost was a real being of some sort, and Hermione had her lip curled in disbelief. She couldn't – literally could not believe that this blue man dared to call himself a ghost.
The thing claiming to be the ghost of Elias Kingston was glaring at them menacingly. “This is the last warning! Either the fortune is here by morning, or all those in the Parkinson house shall grow old. Now go!” He commanded and then walked away rather smoothly, as if he wasn't worried in the slightest about being chased or disobeyed.
Hermione snorted dismissively. “Horrible old blue face really said a frightful mouthful!” She gave Harry a look like she was wondering: What now?
Meanwhile, Harry was looking at her as if she had all the answers. A moment later, he clenched his fists in determination. “Well, we're not going to let that absurd threat scare us.”
Ron gaped at Harry a bit incredulously. “We're not?”
Harry smiled at Ron, trying to be gently reassuring but also firm in his stance. “No Ron, we're going to solve this mystery.”
Hey, where's Greg?” Hermione asked as she looked around the room for him. “Oh! I bet he's in that closet. Hmm, out to lunch,” she murmured as she read the sign.
Harry walked over and opened the door.
Hermione chuckled softly, sounding like she was mentally rolling her eyes fondly. “Can you imagine? Hiding in the closet!”
Harry was now holding the door open. “Yeah, with Greg, I wouldn't be surprised.”
They were now all standing in a group looking into the closet. To their surprise, Greg was merrily eating a plate full of chicken legs at a small table covered with a light blue cloth, by candlelight, with a rose bud in an elegant vase. He chuckled a bit sheepishly but also a bit roguishly, as if he was thinking: sorry, not sorry.
Ron scoffed, looking hurt and a bit offended. “How do you like that? He didn't even invite me!”

***

A few minutes later, outside the mausoleum, the gang watched the 'ghost' go inside and shut the door.
Draco pointed this out just in case the rest of them had somehow missed it. “You all saw that, right? The blithering idiot that wants us to believe he's a ghost...” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I'd say it was a muggle doing it, but I can't believe... Seriously, not even a muggle can think ghosts look like that!”
Hermione chuckled in agreement. “Yeah! They'd have to be pretty gullible. Anyway, he went into the mausoleum, so we should try to get close enough to look inside.”
Harry cleared his throat decisively, sounding like he thought some of them might try to run away if he didn't take charge. He glanced at Ron and Greg. “Come on, let's see what he's up to.”
They walked right up to the closed door, casting spells as they went to detect any repelling wards, unpleasant curses, or nasty hexes.
Harry pointed at the doorknob. “Okay Ron, use Hermione's fingerprinting kit and dust for prints.” This was purely to give the two of them a chance to play around with a few of her muggle toys. More than happy to have such an opportunity, Hermione dug the kit out of her tiny beaded purse.
Ron opened the box Hermione held out. “Right Harry, I'll give it the old Sherlock Holmes Touch.” Both he and Hermione exchanged grins, letting everyone else know that they were definitely having fun playing detectives. Ron used the black powder puff on Hermione's hand.
Ron smirked playfully at his girlfriend. “Like wow! Look at all those fingerprints!”
Hermione gave him a light glare even as Draco sighed, crossed his arms over his chest, and impatiently tapped one foot. “Not my hand, silly, that door!”
Greg snickered at his friend, delighted to not be the blatantly stupid one, for once. Ron happily ignored him and applied the powder to the knob with the fluffy black puff. It revealed a lot of fingerprints.
Ron crowed smugly. “Harry! We got something!”
Harry nodded in satisfaction. “Just as I thought; fingerprints!”
Draco growls, not quite able to believe that they were acting like idiots when his best friend was missing. He used a highly sarcastic fake stage voice to play his part. “Wait a minute! Ghosts wouldn't leave fingerprints!”
Harry opened the door and a single bat – probably the same one they'd seen earlier – came flying out, screeching indignantly. Harry ducked to avoid it getting caught in his wildly messy black hair. The gang kept their cool and stared after the bat curiously.
Ron raised a brow. “Maybe he can turn into a bat?”
Hermione rolled her eyes and chided him. “Don't be silly, Ron!”
Harry was full of confidence again, and turned his vibrantly green eyes to Greg. “Okay Greg, go in there and sniff around for that 'ghost.'”
Greg narrowed his eyes suspiciously, like he was thinking you gotta be kidding me. He drew back and curled into himself, shaking his head. “Uh-uh! Uh-uh!” He gave Harry a flat and stubborn look.
Harry stared him down firmly. “Would you do it for a chocolate chip biscuit?”
Scooby shook his head again, but now he was standing normally and looking calm and slightly interested. “Uuh-uuh!”
Harry decided to up the ante. “I'll give you one, how about two, three, four?” As he said each number, he made another small round biscuit appear between the fingers of his right hand.
Scooby changed from adamant refusal to happy and even eager. “Yeah yeah yeah yeah...”
Ron reached over and stole the biscuits from Harry's hand. Harry gave him a little glare. Ron briefly returned his glare, unable to believe that Harry had been holding out on him.
Ron then popped all four of them in his mouth and promptly munched on them, moaning happily at how good they tasted. “I'll go!” He swallowed his pilfered snack happily, stuck out his tongue at Greg, and half sang a teasing: “Scooby-dooby-doo!”
Greg frowned and grumbled unhappily, both because he was being deprived of Harry's homemade and super delicious biscuits, and because he had no idea was Ron was on about. Harry and Hermione snickered softly because they did catch the reference, but Draco simply stared at them as if he was wondering how he had gotten stuck with such weirdos.
Ron walked into the mausoleum. He was hunched over slightly and looking around warily. A faint grin stretched his mouth as he muttered to himself: “Like, there are times when I'll do anything for one of Harry's homemade biscuits.”
Not finding anything to be concerned about, Ron called out to his friends. “It's okay! Come on in!”
The rest of the gang walked in through the open door.
Draco sniffed haughtily. “There's no 'ghost' in here.”
Harry shrugged indifferently. “Well, we know he came in.”
There's something on that table!” Hermione exclaimed, instantly spotting a big blue book on an old wooden worktable off to the side. It was titled: Crystalomacy. “Hey, this might be a clue! It's a book on Crystalomacy. Er... I think it's supposed to mean Crystalomancy.”
Ron scratched his head in confusion. “Crystal O'Macy? I used to know a Crystal O'Nerdlinger.”
Hermione was now holding the book open and reading from it. She cast a look at Ron. “It's not a girl, Ron! It's a book about how to use a crystal ball. You know, like Trelawny tried to teach in her ludicrous Divination class.”
Draco sighed in aggravation. “You mean that not only are we dealing with a fake ghost, but now he's pretending to use a crystal ball; the kind that charlatan muggle fortune tellers use?” His hands were on his hips and he looked thoroughly annoyed that they'd found something so stupid to work with.
Hermione gave him a tiny smile since she happened to agree with his sentiments. “Right.”
Harry had his arms crossed in front of his chest, looking rather satisfied to have a new clue to mull over. “Say, there's an old Swami place in town. Maybe there's some kind of a connection.” He then had to explain to Greg that a Swami was one of the many names muggles who identified as new age witches and wizards – despite not having magic like they did – called themselves. As he was talking, the blue hand of the 'ghost' reached out from outside the mausoleum, grabbed the knob of the door, and pulled it shut.
Ron reacted first when he heard it clang. “Merlin's moldy toe nails! The door!” He ran to open it, but of course, it was locked. “Hey! We're locked in!” He braced one foot against the wall and yanked on the door as hard as he could. Hermione and Draco both pushed him aside and cast unlocking spells on the door, without success. Then they tried to Disapparate, but still, no luck.
Draco sighed in frustration. “Most of these old pureblood mausoleums are warded to prevent anyone or anything from getting in or out when someone activates the ward.”
Harry shrugged, staying calm so that no one else gave into the urge to start freaking out. “Well, let's hope there's a secret way out of here. Start tapping on the walls.”
Draco nodded because it made sense for a pureblood family to have a multitude of secrets hidden all around – even and maybe especially in their grave yard. He was the first to pick a wall and start tapping on it, but he found nothing. With a soft sigh and growl of frustration, he kept looking for any little detail that might help.
Both Ron and Harry silently walked to the far walls. Hermione also found nothing as she tapped on her wall, but Greg was startled to find a false wall. When he tapped on it, it rotated in a circle, sweeping him into the secret room on the other side. No one noticed at first – despite his yelp of surprise. However, the wall made a sort of banging noise that caught Ron's attention. He looked over his shoulder curiously.
Hey, like what happened to Greg?” Ron wondered with a frown.
Draco shrugged, puzzled and more than a little alarmed that the second one of his friends had suddenly disappeared. “He was right there a second ago.”
He walked over to the false wall, quickly joined by the rest of them. They all leaned closer to the wall to inspect it, Harry tapping on it – which was the trigger for it to rotate again, putting them in the secret room while Greg was now out of it.
Greg was crouched next to the wall and trying to hide his face under his hands. “Huh?”
The wall rotated again and again and again until it built up enough momentum to fling all of them – even Greg – across to the other side of the secret room. They landed in a tangled heap against the far wall.
Ron looked and sounded delighted. “It's a secret passage!”
Draco was also delighted, but for a different reason. He was relieved that they weren't actually stuck inside that mausoleum until someone came looking for them. Also, he wanted to keep looking for Pansy.
Hermione appeared to be holding back giggles while Harry looked like he was thinking: Well, that was unexpected. Greg was still trying to hide under his hands, as if that would protect him from any and all harm.
Harry exclaimed in congratulation: “You did it Greg! You found the way out!”
Greg perked up, peeking out from under his hands. “I did? Yea!”
***

About a half an hour later, the gang was driving into a nearby city. Even though it was dark out already, they had every expectation that it wasn't too late to visit the Swami's shop. Apparently, Harry loved to drive so much that he insisted on doing it again rather than Apparate like Draco wanted. Draco reluctantly gave in simply because Harry promised to do naughty things to him when they finally managed to go to bed. As a result, they were all currently crammed into the front seat – except for Greg, who was sitting in the very middle of the back seat and leaning forward so that he was part of the conversation.
Hermione needlessly reminded them of what they had just learned because she was happy to know about a useful secret. “That secret passage was a shortcut to the Parkinson Estate! Who would have guessed that the Kingstons and the Parkinsons had a secret connection like that. Maybe the ghost impostor is telling the truth when he claims that the fortune rightfully belongs to him.”
Draco stared vaguely at the ceiling as he thought over everything that made him curious. “I wonder if that passage has anything to do with Pansy's disappearance? And surely they must know about it, so why didn't they have it warded against intrusion in the first place? If it was, in fact, used as a way to snatch Pansy...”
Harry pointed as he pulled to a stop. “I don't know, but maybe we'll find some answers here at the Swami's place.” It was a slim and unlikely chance, but they didn't have any better ideas at the moment.
The shop appeared to be empty. It was unlocked, but since it was late, it was probably closed for business. Even if it was, there was nothing to keep them out. This more than anything prompted them to shrug off their misgivings and go inside.
Once inside, they walked around and looked about the shop curiously for a few moments – discovering that the most prominent feature was a round table perfect for four people eating a light lunch. However, it was only accompanied by two high-backed, dark green armchairs with horns protruding from a wooden crown-like decoration on the top of the back of the chairs. The sides of the back of the chairs were intricately carved wooden wings, and the ends of the armrests were carved to look like sharp claws.
Ron harrumphed. “It looks like the Swami is out Swami-ing somewhere else.”
Harry shrugged and gave his best friend a cheeky grin. “Then I guess he won't mind if we take a look around.”
Draco immediately went over to the door marked storage and opened it. “I wonder what's in here?”
Hermione was equally curious for a second, as if she was analyzing all the details of the shop and sorting for clues. She suddenly realized that something was wrong. “Draco, not the storage closet!” If their luck from similar past events carried over, then...
A pile of things came tumbling out of the now open closet door, landing on Ron and Greg, who look resigned, like they were thinking: Yep, should have known.
Ron sighed as if yielding to the inevitable. “Well Draco, you did it again.”
Draco snorted in amusement, but clearly wasn't sorry. Nor did he bother to help them out. Instead, he simply walked away.
The door to the shop opened, ringing an annoying bell. Ron and Greg were already back on their feet thanks to a quickly cast decluttering spell from Hermione. Panicking without really knowing why, Ron decided that hiding was the only option that made sense to him at the moment. “Uh-oh! Sounds like someone's coming!” He exclaimed in a whisper and rushed to disappear into a hiding spot. Not really sure why, everyone but Greg followed him.
An older – white haired and plump – woman entered the shop. She was wearing a calf length lavender dress with dark blue accents and a matching dark blue hat with a white feather sticking straight up out of it. In her right hand, she was holding a pair of fancy glasses to her nose the same way that people held lorgnettes at an opera. Around her neck was a large gold locket with matching dangling earrings. Clutched in her left hand was a fashionable black purse. Lastly, she had on stylish high heeled shoes that matched her purse.
Yoohoo, Swami! Oh Swami!” She called out in a sing-song voice. Spotting Greg sitting in one of the armchairs, dressed up as a fortune teller, she drawled happily: “Oh! There you are!”
The rest of the gang snorted in amusement from where they were now hiding behind a curtain off to the side of the table. Greg silently stared at the woman in confusion. He had no idea what to say or do!
Draco well knew that his friend was a complete idiot and was probably the worst person to try to pretend to be a fortune teller. “Oh no! A customer!” He sneered in dismay and frustration that their quest to find clues and figure out what happened to Pansy kept getting delayed.
Hermione smirked in delight. “She thinks Greg is the Swami!”
Harry lit up, grinning like he just had a brilliant idea. He whispered in Ron's ear. “Ron, you'd better throw your voice and make Greg sound like a Swami.”
Intrigued by this prospect, Ron nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I'd better.”
The woman was simpering rather sickeningly. “Oh Mr. Swami, I have something to ask you.”
Ron cupped a hand alongside his mouth. “Good evening, please be seated.”
Greg looked over his shoulder in surprise, then winked when he saw Ron ready to help out.
The woman continued with an eager grin. “Oh Swami, tell me, what do you see in the crystal ball?”
Ron answered far more honestly than he was supposed to as Greg mouthed like he was actually speaking. “My reflection.”
The customer frowned in disappointment. “Your reflection? My word!”
Greg remembered a tiny bit of divination class and started swirling his hands around the ball.
Ron hastily revised his initial response. “No wait! I see a tall handsome man in your future.”
The woman giggled merrily, obviously enjoying this prediction.
Ron added: “And you're dancing together cheek to cheek.”
She giggled some more.
Ron was really getting into the spirit of things. “Now he's whispering something to you...”
She leaned forward eagerly and asked: “He is? What is the dear boy saying?”
Greg stopped rubbing the ball and cupped his hand around his mouth as if to impart a secret.
Ron continued, opting to try a dancing joke. “Get off my foot.”
Scandalized, the woman sat up rigidly straight. “Oh! Enough of this! I want my palm read.” She held her right palm out to Greg.
Ron responded a bit hesitantly. “Yes Ma'am.”
Greg surreptitiously conjured and then pulled out a gallon-sized can of red paint from under the table and used a large brush to paint her palm red.
She gasped “Eek!” and glared at him murderously.
Ron did his best to hold back an impertinent laugh. “You did say red.”
Furious, the customer got up and marched over to the door. “How dare you?!”
Ron snorted, and then managed to sound disappointed. “How about that? All that advice and she didn't even pay us a dime.”
The door opened briefly to let her out before slamming shut; the bell jingling noisily again.
Hermione merely shrugged, never having any real respect for divination anyway. “I hope that's the end of the customers for a while.”
A few moments later, they all came out of hiding.
Harry smiled encouragingly. “Okay gang, let's get on with our investigation.”
Greg looked eager; Ron looked bummed; Draco looked bored; and as usual, Hermione looked like she had a brilliant idea. In excitement, she pointed over at the table – which had a rather plain table cloth over it in shades of light blue.
Hermione grinned. “Hey look, the table's floating!”
Ron snorted in amusement. “Merlin's palsy shaken hands! It's the goony ghost!” The blue face was now clear for all to see in the crystal ball atop the floating table.
The fake ghost growled threateningly. “You did not do as I said; now you shall pay!”
The table went flying in their direction.
Harry quickly looked around in concern. “Hey, look out! Duck!”
They all flung themselves out of the way.
Hermione squealed as if she was a child at a muggle theme park. “It's after us!”
The table flew by over their heads and they leapt to their feet to watch it as it eventually stopped and changed direction to chase them again. This time, it seemed like a better idea to run away.
Harry – in the lead – cried out a warning. “Here it comes again!”
Greg – left fairly far behind – yelped out: “Yikes!” As the table nearly ran him over.
Hermione, now alarmed rather than amused, exclaimed with a shake of her head. “I've heard of flying saucers, but this is ridiculous!”
The so-called ghost – still inside the crystal ball – cackled ominously. “Run, run, run!”
The gang – aside from Greg, who must have flung himself to the floor – arrived at an exit (not the same door as the entrance with the bell), and Harry opened it. This action made the table go flying harmlessly outside. Harry hastily shut the door to keep the table out.
Draco cheered sarcastically. “We got rid of it! Now what?”
The table flew by an open patio door off to the side.
Ron gulped apprehensively. “Er... We did?” The table flew back into the room. “Then, like, what's that?”
The 'ghost' laughed triumphantly. He gleefully gave chase once more. This prompted the gang to go running away from the flying table again.
Hermione harrumphed and rolled her eyes. “He's a real joker!”
Ron agreed with his girlfriend's sarcasm. “I'm not laughing!”
Harry cried out when the table got close to them once again: “Duck!”
They all squatted and hunched over so that the table went flying over their heads. It was then that Ron noticed something that made him shout: “Look out Greg!”
The table roughly scooped Greg up so that he was now riding on top of it, whimpering in fear. The table flew back and forth for a couple of moments before thoroughly annoying Draco. He pulled out his wand and cast: “Arresto Momentum!” Which had the rather unfortunate side effect of the table crashing. Thankfully, despite being under the wreckage, Greg wasn't hurt.
Harry gaped at Greg in surprise. “Greg caught the table!”
Ron pointed at the wrecked table. “Man, this thing flew like it was jet propelled.”
Harry frowned over the fact that Ron correctly used a muggle term. Then he smirked a bit smugly. “You mean like fan propelled!” Which brought all of their attention to a common table top fan strapped to the bottom of the ornately carved wooden table. “See? A fan type motor gave it the power to fly.”
Ron suddenly looked like he was suffering from indigestion – or more likely – like he didn't appreciate Harry subtly insulting his intelligence. As it turned out, Ron was actually concerned for his friend Greg. “Are you okay, Greg?”
Greg perked up, even though he was still trapped under the table. “Huh? Oh! I'm okay.”
Hermione was now looking toward a corner, pointing excitedly. “Hey look, suitcases!”
Draco suggested in a dry and reasonable tone – which meant that he was actually fighting the urge to roll his eyes. “Maybe somebody just moved in.”
Ron had his hands behind his back, swaying slightly and looking like he was wondering what to do now. Meanwhile, Harry had his left hand in his pocket and was looking around as if he suspected that there were more clues to be found near the ceiling.
Ron decided to try and crack a joke in response to Draco's sarcasm, but it was lame. “Then let's move out.”
And look what I found,” Draco said, blatantly ignoring Ron as he opened up a blue case full of jars. “A professional make up kit.”
And what's that?” Ron asked as he pointed at an approximately six inch, rectangular, black Camcorder. “It looks like one of those muggle thingies – er... a TV camera?”
Hermione went over to stand next to him and take a look at it. “You're right, Ron,” she admitted, sounding surprised.
Yeah,” Ron confirmed a bit proudly. He gave her a brilliant smile and a quick kiss on the lips. “It's a miniature TV Camera. Hey, smile Greg!”
Harry chuckled and smiled, also a bit proud of himself. “That's how the 'ghost' got on the crystal ball. Closed circuit TV.”
Meanwhile, Greg was really overdoing his smile – grinning and hamming it up for the Camera.
Harry pointed to the crystal ball, which had rolled to a stop at Greg's feet. “See Greg? That's how you look on TV.”
Greg looked at the ball, realized that he could see himself moving in real time, and started pulling a variety of wacky faces – such as growling or sticking out his tongue. He also waggled his eye brows alternatively.
What a ham!” Ron pronounced with a tone of fond exasperation.
Draco sighed and tried to hold back his impatience and frustration. “Look, well, we've got a lot of clues now. Right?”
Ron looked over at him in surprise. “Huh? We do?”
Harry looked deadly serious again. “My sexy boyfriend's right! We now have enough clues to turn the tables on that 'ghost.' Now, here's what we're going to do.”

***

Later on, once they'd driven back to the Kingston Mansion, Greg was walking along hunched over with a wooden treasure chest about a foot wide on his back that Ron was holding steady. Ron cupped a hand along the side of his mouth and called out: “Yoohoo! Mr. Ghost, I'm here with the fortune. Yoohoo!”
Greg echoed: “Yoohoo!”
Ron stopped abruptly. “Uh-oh!” There was now a blue hand on his shoulder from behind. He slowly turned his head to look behind him.
The so-called ghost of Elias Kingston was looking a bit pleased with himself. “Ah good! You've brought the fortune. How fortunate for you.” He took the chest off Greg's back and set it on a nearby task table with a ragged purple table cloth. “Stay, until I see it with my own eyes.” He opened the chest to reveal a toy popping up like one from a jack in the box. The toy was a clown with a plastic flower in its lapel that conjured water and squirted the Ghost in the eye. He growled angrily. “It's a trick!”
At the same time, Ron and Greg took off running.
I'll turn you to bones!” The fake ghost called after them threateningly before giving chase.
The plan's working, Greg,” Ron called out rather needlessly in a gleeful tone.
You can't get away!” The 'ghost' shouted.
Ron hissed urgently at Greg. “Quick! Get behind the curtain.”
They made a rather loud scuffling sound just after they disappeared behind a ceiling-to-floor length purple curtain. A second later, a pair of thick black shoes came poking out from under the curtain. The 'ghost' peered at them suspiciously.
Winking at Greg and cupping his hand along his mouth, Ron said in a loud stage whisper: “Shh! Greg, I hope the ghost doesn't find us.”
The 'ghost' smirked like he was thinking: heh heh! He rubbed his right hand over his left fist and prepared to attack or confront them. He gave them no warning as he put all his strength into punching his left fist through the curtain, only to howl and wail in pain when he hit an anvil that the boys had set up specifically for that purpose.
Ron grinned and held up his shoes. “Perfecto! I've got my shoes; so let's join our mates.”
A minute or so later, the so called ghost was still crying out in pain while the entire gang was at the top of a grand but worn out staircase. It had a rundown wooden balcony at the top to give people a place to stand as they looked down at the room – which might have once been a smaller ballroom or perhaps a formal dining room. Hermione had a projector set up and was smirking conspiratorially at Harry.
I hear the 'ghost' coming,” Harry informed them, though they could probably all hear it themselves. “Get ready for phase two.”
He turned to look across the balcony, holding up the Camcorder to film Ron. “All set, Ron?”
Yeah, let's go!” Ron responded enthusiastically. He was now running on top of a small and hastily put together treadmill.
Hermione announced a moment later: “He's in the hall!”
Harry nodded in understanding. “Turn on the projector.”
Down where the fake ghost was – he had thankfully stopped wailing – a projection of Ron ran around the room. The 'ghost' raised his right fist above his head and shook it furiously.
Stop or I'll mummify you!” His fist uncurled and he used those fingers to point at the projection of Ron accusingly. He then scrunched up a little as he prepared to run after Ron. As he was running – unable to catch up with the projection of Ron – two more ghosts of him appeared next to him, as if running with him.
He skidded to a stop and stared at them in surprise. “This place really is haunted!”
Harry was now manning the projector. He whispered with a tone of childlike excitement: “Now watch what he does when he sees the tape of you, Greg.”
Yeah!” Greg cried out in agreement, looking eager.
The 'ghost' gaped fearfully for a second when he noticed a giant ghostly Greg looming over him. “Oh no!” He exclaimed in terror. The giant Greg growled menacingly. “That does it!” The 'ghost' cried out just before he took off running.
It's working, Pansy!” Harry gloated to Draco's best friend, who was now standing next to the gang on the balcony, watching the resolution. She had capably managed to free herself a while ago and let them know about the hidden room she'd been held captive in. Draco had hugged her tight in relief for nearly a minute straight before she rolled her eyes and pushed him away.
The bloody idiot's going into the secret room where he had me tied up,” Pansy informed them as they watched the fake ghost run into the opening behind the bookcase. The cabinet slid shut behind him.
Inside the secret room, the 'ghost' made sure the wall was sealed shut. “Well, little miss Pansy, I still have you and the fortune shall yet be mi–” He cut himself off abruptly when he turned around and realized that he didn't have Pansy tied to a chair behind him, but rather the purple armchair with the skeleton of her Uncle Stewart.
Clearly surprised, he roared: “How did that get here?!” Now spooked, he added: “Let me out of here!” And ran out of the secret room the moment the sliding wall/cabinet full of books opened again.
Here he comes!” Ron announced excitedly. He was standing on the balcony with Harry, Draco, and Hermione – all of them holding a net.
Draco smirked almost evilly. “Salazar! He's running as if a ghost was after him.”
Now! Throw it!” Harry ordered.
Bombs away!” Ron exclaimed as they threw the net down onto the impostor ghost. Who fell to the ground with a loud thud and some anguished struggling. He fell silent when he looked up and saw them watching him.
I guess that about wraps up the ghost story!” Hermione announced gleefully.
Ha ha, ghost story,” Greg snorted, getting the joke.
Just a little while later, the gang was back in the Parkinson Mansion with Pansy, the 'ghost' tied to a chair, and Mr. Parkinson, who had finally returned from fetching an Auror. Although, the rather long delay must have been because the Auror refused to believe or accompany him.
Harry held up a cleaning rag and said: “Mr. Parkinson, this ghost really doesn't need any introduction. As soon as we clean him up...”
Ron sprayed a can of cleaner on the 'ghost's' blue face and Harry swished the rag around the face fairly roughly.
I'm sure you'll recognize him,” Harry continued with a proud smirk at a job well done. “There! Look familiar?”
Pansy gasped in recognition. “Uncle Stewart!” The blue was completely gone, revealing a middle aged man with normal skin color, brown hair, and a well groomed brown beard. His thick black glasses were on his face, implying that they had been hidden by the paint somehow. Probably via a glamour.
Like, in person,” Ron confirmed with a grin.
He thought he could scare you into giving up the Parkinson Family Fortune,” Harry explained, although that part had been rather obvious since the beginning.
That ghostly wailing was only a recording,” Draco added.
And by a clever use of muggle stage make up, he made himself look old,” Hermione informed them.
When I came downstairs to investigate a noise, I saw Uncle Stewart's wig blow off,” Pansy murmured, sounding like everything was finally making sense. “I knew he wasn't old!”
So he had to take you prisoner?” Mr. Parkinson stated more than asked.
Pansy shrugged indifferently, and then looked at Draco. “But how did the Swami shop enter into the scheme?”
What better way for a swindler to disappear?” Draco asked, but it was a rhetorical question.
Uncle Stewart!” Pansy admonished in deep disappointment. “Why did you do it?”
Her father harrumphed before her uncle could say a word. “Well, I guess he can explain it to the Auror when he gets here.” He then looked over at the table, which was utterly laden with food. “I bet you kids are starving.”
Salazar yes!” Pansy exclaimed crankily.
Merlin's crooked teeth! That's all for me!” Ron insisted, remembering that he hadn't eaten more than a couple of biscuits in probably six or so hours. He rushed over to the table before anyone else could to lift up the large cover keeping the food warm and pest free. Instead of food, he found a note propped up on a platter that said: Gregory Goyle was here. “Hey! What's this? … Gregory Goyle was here. The whole turkey! Gone?!”
Greg popped up with a mischievous smirk at the other end of the table and held up a single uneaten turkey leg, which he promptly devoured with obvious enjoyment. “Heh heh heh heh!”
Everyone groaned, rolled their eyes, and shook their heads. Leave it to Greg to be three steps ahead of them when it came to food!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome and encourage everyone to comment... except spammers and bots. So, I am sorry that I have to require the captcha, but I've now officially got 10 times more comments from spammers than real people. Thank you for your comment and have a happy day :-)

Charts and Readings

Choose