Chapter 1 : Nightcreatures
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The moon stood steadily in the clear, still, ink blue sky, illuminating the grounds that surrounded the impressive red brick Jacobean House. Amongst the formal hedges and the sweet smells of the kitchen garden all was silent except for the occasional swish in the darkness. Pallas emerged from the shadows; tall for her age, her black hair tied neatly at the nape of her neck, her butterfly net swinging casually from her shoulder. She placed the large glass jar that she was carrying onto the roof of what looked like a rabbit hutch that stood adjacent to the gardener’s store and made sure that the perforated lid was firmly secure. Inside the jar fluttered seven assorted moths. Pallas reached into one of the generous pockets of her heavy dressing gown and pulled a small, battered, but highly loved copy of Tebster’s Guide to Nightcreatures. She swiftly turned the well-thumbed pages holding up the different hand coloured etchings to try to identify her captives. When she was satisfied, she opened her dragon-hide notebook and, using the quill and ink that she had place on the hutch roof, she turned to a fresh page and neatly wrote the date and weather conditions. Her neat, precise hand listed out her finds, recording the names of the months and their sizes on the crisp parchment that smelled like the lavender around her.
Four Luna Flitters, approx. ¾ inch
Two Stella Swoopers, approx 1 ½ inches
One Moonstar, approx 4 inches
A long, red, sticky tongue flashed out from the darkness of the hutch and hit the glass of the jar with a rasping slurp, before returning to the shadows. Pallas turned her attention to where the tongue had disappeared to and with mocking disapproval said, ‘Weasley you naughty toad, these aren’t for you!’ Weasley, the large, red-skinned pet toad that belonged to her brother, seemed to hang his head in shame. ‘Never mind,’ continued Pallas ‘have one of these,’ and she opened a small, hinged lidded tin that had an embossed image of a toad on it and the legend Alderman Bury’s Tasty Treats for Toads. Weasley edged closer to the wire mesh that formed the front side of the hutch, his already large eyes growing larger at the sight of the tin. Pallas selected a large bluebottle shaped tidbit and tossed it towards the toad. The long, sticky tongue shot out from between the toad’s thin blue lips once more and caught the treat deftly, snapping it back into its moist pink mouth. A hint of a smile now traced itself on those lips; the toad inflated its fat belly and emitted a large and smelly burp. The stench reminded Pallas of the first potion she had ever made with her Introduction to Simple Potions Set I that was now languishing at the back of her wardrobe, discarded like most of her toys. ‘Weasley!’ Pallas chided, ‘you’re as disgusting as your owner!’ Pallas replaced the tin and gathered up her possessions to return into the dark quiet house.
Pallas’s brother and owner of the toad, Draco, was three years older than her. He was a pale, pointed faced young man who was about to enter his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was growing into the spitting image of his father in both feature and countenance. His shoulders had started to broaden, and his ashen blond hair was now growing steadily towards these shoulders, just as her father Lucius’s hair grew. Draco was following in his father’s footsteps in other ways too. Since returning home from school for the summer holidays, he often accompanied his father on business away from the home. And when at home he spent an increasing amount of time in his father’s wing of the house, away from the day-to-day living and entertaining areas. What he did there she knew as little of as she did of her father’s business.
Lucius Malfoy was a man of property and no obvious morals. One of the ways he maintained his fortune was by the ownership of a number of properties in the less than salubrious area of Knockturn Alley in London, and area that even the Goblins chose not to invest in. Lucius was not interested in purely monetary profit from this portfolio, but rather what the tenants of those properties could supply him with. In other words, their silence was his most prized payment. Many years before Pallas was born, life in the wizarding world had been blighted by the power of a single Dark Wizard (one who practises the magic of destruction) who had called himself Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort had spun a web of distrust amongst the wizarding world that even now, sixteen years after his downfall, still had a hold on those who lived in Knockturn Alley and its surrounding grey squares and garrets. Lucius like to exploit this to the full.
Pallas set her jar upon the windowsill of her bedroom, laid her dressing gown at the foot of her bed and settled down to sleep. Pallas was not one to be troubled by dreams in spite of her father’s mysterious activities. She lived well and wanted for nothing, living in a large house separated from the local community by extensive grounds and solid brick walls which shielded the property from the country road that passed towards the Muggle village nearby. She lived with her mother, father and brother alone in the large and historic house apart from the staff of house-elves and fire-sprites who were responsible for the care of both the house and family. Pallas had never seen them, as they knew better than to get into the path of Lucius Malfoy, especially since the departure of Dobby, a house-elf of long standing Lucius had been tricked into releasing him from his magical contract of servitude three years previously, and Pallas could still remember her father’s anger when he had returned that night from her brother’s school, pacing the hall like a demon and cursing the names of Potter, Dumbledore and Dobby.
After a peaceful night, the dawn light was beginning to filter into Pallas’s bedroom between a chink in the heavily embroidered curtains. She stood up, wrapped her dressing gown around herself once more, and approached the windowsill. The Contents of the jar was still. The approach of dawn had quietened the moths who were now drowsily huddled at the bottom of the jar. Pallas lifted the jar and smiled with pleasure. Among the tiny winged creatures sat a small, fairy-like creature. His body was covered in the soft, pale down of his metamorphosis and his hair was the same cream colour, falling in gentle waves against his shoulders. On his face remained the coffee coloured remnants of his moth markings, and on his back, carefully curled up like silken ferns, were his wings. Pallas carefully opened the lid and removed the Moonstar, placing it carefully in a satin box full of lark’s feathers in her carved dressing table drawer. She was just returning to the window when her bedroom door burst open, knocking the jar from her hand and smashing it against the wall. The now awake moths flew up in fright from the debris, circling the room in a mad frantic ballet of flight.
Draco stood there, in the ruby red robes that he was now in the habit of wearing around the house, uncaring of his actions. ‘Hurry up, Pallas, Father wants us downstairs now!’ Just as promptly he exited, his robes swishing in the doorway. Pallas was left in chaos. Glass littered the floor. * She quietly opened the window and steered the moths back out into the half-light to find a roost before the sun rose fully. Pallas slid the carved drawer of her dressing table gently open once more; the wood ran silently on its runners. Moonstar unfurled his wings and, like a flash of moonlight, zipped around the bedroom and back to his nest. The jar again stood faultless upon the windowsill, and all traces of broken glass had been erased by the Changeling’s magic. Pallas mouthed a silent thank you and continued to get ready for the day.