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Chapter 1 : Dead Candles
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Petunia quickly bleed dry the sweat from her brow when another sweat slipped out and passed her temple unhurriedly. Her Halloween costume was pulled off, neglected by her side yet she still had the frog mask clumped firmly against her face. Lily that still resembled a fairy had the transparent rainbow wings behind her back as her lips curved up for a smile, admiring the ninety-ninth candle blown away. Petunia watched Severus furiously from the opposite side as he quietly stared and marveled at Lily from the distance. He didn’t wear any Halloween costume; he simply wore an oversized ragged jersey and an unkempt bag by his side.
I tried to wear the ugliest costume on earth for Halloween but Snape already wore it , Petunia thought, had a great sense of pleasure derision and a sneer showing malicious intent when her upper lip raised so smugly.
“One tale to go,” Severus spoke up, he had an intense excitement proliferate across his pale face.
“Tuney, your turn,” Lily said, “Make it quick, it’s seven minutes to midnight.”
Petunia nodded quickly. Between the circle Lily, Severus and Petunia made, and the candle lit faintly in order to fill the empty house to prevent vacant darkness; Petunia tried to figure another story. This one needed extra daunting and bloodcurdling seasonings added, for Lily and Severus to shiver up until they become asphyxiated. The ceremony of calling the ghost of the empty house by their neighborhood was almost complete; they just needed to blow off the last candle by telling the last frightening tale about ghosts.
Make them scared until they can’t bare breathing… thought Petunia.
“Right,” Petunia started, she deliberately lowered her voice in a mysterious way and continued, “My friend told me this happened to her brother’s friend.”
Petunia carefully watched Severus and Lily, their eyes were fixed on Petunia’s direction. Petunia felt the severe attention, and she liked it. Before starting her story, she took a minute to glance around the ninety-nine dead candles. Now there was only a candle illuminating through the humongous empty chamber.
“He got a scholarship for this good university, but the university won’t take responsible for his shelter and other needs like his pocket money, food or new clothes,” Petunia continued with a tiny inexplicable tone, she stated the words so slowly and quietly that Severus and Lily needed to tilt their head towards Petunia a little closer, “So with all the money he could ever save up, he inquired to this dormitory owner. He asked,
‘Sir, I wonder if you have a flat that’s cheap enough for me to stay? I haven’t got that much money.’
“Then the owner said,
‘Well, kid, I do think I have but—’
‘—I’ll take the flat, no matter how small it is—’
‘—But kid, you don’t know… It’s—’
‘—I don’t care, Sir. It’s already dark outside, I can’t afford another taxi.’
“Feeling pity towards the boy, the owner finally agreed and asked him to come in,” Petunia said.
“Where’s the scary part?” Lily interrupted.
“Hold on, Lily,” Petunia answered furiously, “I’m trying to warm up the uncomfortable tension here, let me continue!”
“So where was I? Oh, right,” Petunia continued, “So the days of his were spent comfortably there by his small dirty and grubby flat. Every morning when the boy greeted the dormitory owner, the owner eyed him warily and worriedly. But knowing nothing happened for weeks, the owner sighed in relief. The gossip about the flat being haunted was not true.
“But things changed, the day before the boy left the flat forever, he was studying hard for his examination. He looked at his watch, the clock stroke sharply at three o’clock in the morning yet he didn’t even finish one chapter of his studies. Enraged by his own stupidity, he was rather stressed out and his muscles were overwrought and strained.
“When the boy felt someone was massaging his shoulders from the back, he thought it was the owner that usually visit each and every flat in order to patrol and keep watch. So the boy thought, it was the owner massaging his shoulders, the owner was known to be a kind and friendly guy.”
Petunia gave an abrupt halt then eyed maliciously toward Lily’s direction, then continued with a slight whisper, “Pit-pat… Pit-pat… The massages turned to be small pats. Pit-pat… Pit-pat… The boy then turned around to thank the owner but it turned out… It wasn’t the owner.”
Petunia that felt the excitement of telling the story was a little frightened as well. She saw Lily drawing closer to Severus for comfort. Petunia rolled her eyes seeing this then continued;
“They were feet. Yes, feet. Two hanging foot patting the boy’s shoulder. When he looked upwards… there was this girl that was wearing a white gown, neck strangled with cord of fibers so she hung up by the ceiling. Her blank eyes looked straight at the boy, wide with shock and a pained look twisting across her blue sickly face with—”
“—ARRGGGHHHH!!” Lily screamed.
Petunia thought she scared both Lily and Severus enough, but it turned out Lily wasn’t howling with screams because of her story. The last candle that was lit minutes ago was dead by itself. Dead by itself when there was no wind passing through the broken windows of the empty house.
The three ten-year-old kids were showered with darkness. All was black, all was horrifyingly pitch black.
“Sev, you pulled out the last candle, didn’t you?”
“I wasn’t even near the candle, I swear!”
“Tuney, where are you?”
“Watch it, that’s my foot!!”
“Let’s get out of here, I swear I’ll kill both of you. This is not funny!”
When the three of them pulled away from the cold marble floor, and all of them were holding each other’s hand, they managed to escape the empty house by running away as hard as their little feet can carry. Panting and sweating when they reached few feet away from the empty house, their eyes finally caught dim lights by the street lamp. Through her short breaths, Lily cried, “I… We… Stu..pid.”
Severus that was panting as well gave a slight grin and can’t even comment on anything.
“How… Did…” Petunia said, as she tried to catch her breath, “The… Candle… Dead… By itself?”
Lily shook her sweat from her forehead and said, “Promise me that we’ll never do that thing again. It’s terrifying. Can’t we just do trick or treats? Those calling-ghost thing are for adults, not kids like us!”
“Agreed,” Petunia said, “Let’s go back… I’m hungry.”
The three of them gathered themselves and finally walked away from the empty house, when they were finally a few meters away from the house, Severus quietly said, “Don’t ever turn your head back to the house, they said it’s a curse when we do that.”
Petunia didn’t hear him, she turned her head around and looked back at the empty house curiously.
Out of all the darkness from the empty house, by the broken windows; inside there was a woman wearing a white nightgown hanging by a single rope, her dead eyes stared at Petunia distance away with her feet swinging back and forth.
A/N: So this calling-ghost ceremony with blowing up hundred candles and telling off hundred ghost tales actually exist. I mean, I occasionally do it during my childhood Halloween and skip trick-or-treating. The guys usually beat me up when nothing happened because they missed the candies and throwing little kids with it.
You should try it, the last candle does go off by itself. It happened to me.
An early greeting for Halloween.
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