Chapter 19 : House of Boykotte
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House of Boykotte
Voices...movement...a sudden wash of warmth...Harry stirred. Using his sense of touch, he explored his environment. He felt some blankets wrapped around him, and the surging warmth on one side told him he was lying near a fire. His head lay on something firm, and his arm pressed against a similar surface. He wondered where he was. At least this time I didn't die, he thought to himself. He sighed. Time to have a look around. He opened his eyes.
He was in a sort of sitting room. The type of sitting room a very rich person might have...there was a very large fireplace, as he had guessed. Looking down at himself, he found he was wrapped in blankets, and lying a a comfy couch. He nodded slowly and looked around more. The room was well furnished, sporting several small sculptures and statues. There was a large mirror over the mantel, and he got up. Walking over, he peered into it. He looked very disheveled; his hair was messier than usual, and his face was dirty. His eyes were sad and tired. He stared deeper, when his image flickered and changed, becoming slightly more...female. He stumbled back, and the image resumed his normal appearance.
“What was that?” he muttered, staring at the glass for any sign of the face that had been so like him, yet not his. He shook his head, then jumped as a voice said, “Pardon?”
He spun to see a butler standing in the doorway to the room, bearing a tray covered in food and drink. “Is there a problem?” asked the butler courteously.
Harry shook his head again. “No,” he said. “No, I think I was just seeing things.”
The butler came closer, his wrinkled eyes roving over the mirror. “I wouldn't be so sure of that, young master,” he whispered. “That mirror shows many things. Things in this house that we are not aware of. In fact, it is said that the mirror shows the spiritual realm existing within this place.”
“The spiritual...?” asked Harry dubiously, thinking this was very much like Trelawney claiming to possess the inner eye. Although, he thought, she did. She just couldn't access it on command.
The butler opened his mouth, but a deep, quiet voice said, “That is enough, Balm. You may set down the tray and leave.”
Balm turned his head slightly in response to the voice, then put the tray down on a nearby table and left, bowing once to an unseen person on the way out. Once the man had left, a figure entered the room, walking with a slow, stately grace.
“You must forgive Balm,” spoke the figure. “He is very knowledgeable of the legends that still linger about this mansion. I discourage the spreading of these tales, as there is no proof they are true, but he insists upon holding with the old beliefs. I see no harm in it.”
“Spiritual...” muttered Harry, and the man smiled.
“Ah, yes, there is said to be an alternate realm within the property. It is believed to be the other world where my ancient ancestors rest. According to popular tales, it is a mirror image of this mansion, providing every imaginable comfort to the remaining spirits.”
“Oh,” said Harry, thinking. The man watched him, then spoke again.
“Oh, I do apologize. I haven't even introduced myself. How thoughtless of me.” He held out his hand, and Harry took it. “I am Malcom Boykotte, and this is the House of Boykotte.”
“Right,” said Harry. “So, how did I end up here?”
“I'm not sure how it started,” Malcom responded, frowning. “I heard an awful howling outside, and went to see what the fuss was about. I found you and your friends lying on the shore, half submerged in water. I daresay you were within Death's very grasp. So, I brought you here, and warmed you up.”
“Where are my friends?” inquired Harry, remembering. “Are they okay?”
“They are fine, as far as I know,” Malcom assured him. “They are in the bedrooms. I didn't have quite enough, so I put you down here.” Harry thought he saw a flicker in Malcom's eyes, but decided he had imagined it.
“Can I go see them, please?” he asked. “I want to make sure they are all right.”
“Of course, of course,” Boykotte answered genially. “Just don't wear yourself out too much.” He walked over to the door, leading Harry out into a large hall. Turning, he headed for one of two great staircases leading up to a balcony that stretched along one half of the room. Boykotte approached the stairs on the left and ascended them, his hand trailing along the ornate banister. He hummed a song lightly under his breath, while Harry looked around in awe. While it was clear the house was quite old, it was in magnificent condition, and breathtaking. Paintings adorned the walls, as Harry could see when they reached the top, and as they passed the pictures, he realized they were all men. The past heads of the house, he thought, looking closer at one. It was a portly man, with a scarlet handlebar mustache and slicked back hair. His eyes observed the air before him with an air of supremacy. This, Harry thought, was a man who believed strongly in his own importance.
“Ah,” said Malcom, pausing also and looking back at him. His eyes gave the portrait a fleeting glance. “You look upon my great-grandfather, Bartemus Boykotte. A very, er, sociable man...not one I would have liked to be fellows with, but he is blood, and he did do very well in his life. Didn't look kindly on those who shunned society, and didn't view the ill-connected folk much better either. But he was very kind to those whom he deemed worthy of his friendship.”
“Oh,” said Harry simply, turning from the painting. He looked at Malcom, who was gazing at him curiously. Much more curiously than warranted even for one who stood in the presence of the great Harry Potter. And Harry thought he saw a little fear in that gaze as well...
The Malcom's face resumed its cheerful, calm demeanor, and Harry wondered whether he had really seen the fear and curiosity.
“Come, Mr. Potter,” said the man. “Your friends await.”
“Are they all in one room?” asked Harry. “I thought you said...”
“Nay. They are separated, as I said. However, unless you are capable of being in multiple places at once,”said Boykotte, his eyes twinkling, “then I daresay you should visit them one at a time. The reason I choose this room first, is because the young lady, who names herself Miss Hermione Granger, has been asking for you for a while. Now that you have arisen, I'd say you are ready to face her.”
“Hermione...” murmured Harry., She was bound to be in tears of worry by now. .Malcom stopped before a door, knocked twice, then entered.
“Miss Granger,” he announced, bowing to hide a smile that Harry still managed to catch,“A man here to see you.”
“HARRY!” She squealed, and started to jump out of bed. Harry sprang forward and grabbed her. “Take it easy,” he ordered.
She frowned, but settled down. Looking him over, she said, “Thank goodness you are okay. I thought we were going to die.”
“So did I,” he agreed. “But that wasn't what concerned me most. I couldn't find you!”
“I couldn't find you either,” she answered. “I guess we landed too far apart. And the stormy water didn't help. But that doesn't matter. Harry, do you know where we are?”
“The House of Boykotte,” he replied, confused. “Why?”
“It isn't just a house, Harry,” she said impatiently. “I examined the signature on that letter, and I tested this house, just to be sure. She is here, Harry!”
“What?” he muttered, stunned. It couldn't be. “But Malcom seemed so nice...”
“Appearances can be deceiving,” she said brusquely, waving it aside. “And he may not be the person she referred to in her letter. For all we know, he is working with someone else, someone whom he trusts implicitly. But if you don't believe me, look for the owl. Surely they have a spot for owls in this place.”
“Then I'll do that,” responded Harry. “Though it seems a waste of time to look for owls when I should be searching for my sister!”
“Once you accept that she is here,” snapped Hermione, “then you can start looking for her!”
“A problem, sir and miss?” came the butler's voice. Harry spun to see the man lurking in the doorway.
“Er,” said Harry, “no, we were just, er, discussing something. Right, Hermione?”
“Of course,” she said quickly. “There's nothing wrong. We're fine.”
The butler looked at them closely. “If there is someone else you are looking for,” he spoke quietly, “then please tell us. We may be able to help. My master and I are willing to do all we can do to help you.”
“Well, you found us all, right?” asked Harry, chagrined he hadn't thought to ask.
“As far as I know, we retrieved all of you from the water,” the butler answered calmly.
“Well, there were fi-four of us,” Harry said, stumbling as he almost included Dominion in his count. He wondered where the dragon was. “Me, Hermione, Narcissa, who is a blond haired woman, and Ron, a red-haired bloke.”
“The woman we found,” mused the butler. “But there was no red-haired boy.” He looked at Harry in puzzled bemusement.
Harry blinked. “Are you sure?” he pressed. “There was a boy named Ron with us.”
Balm shook his head. “There was no boy other than you. Are you sure about this?”
Harry gaped. How dare the butler ask that? “Am I sure?” he echoed incredulously. “Am I sure? Of course I'm sure! He's my best mate! How can I not be sure if my best mate came with or not?”
“I apologize,” said Balm solemnly, bowing. “I did not wish to cause the master affront. I merely wished to ascertain that there was truly a man lost at sea. For if there is indeed another out there, then it may be far too late to save him...”
“Take me to Narcissa,” Harry said abruptly. He had to talk to Mrs. Malfoy.
“The blonde-haired woman? Right this way, sir,” said the butler, and he turned and departed the room. Harry followed Balm down the balcony and across to the other said, where he knocked on a door and opened it.
“In here, sir,” he said, bending slightly and gesturing inside. Harry looked in. Narcissa lay on a bed, her face much paler than usual. She was clearly quite worn out.
“Harry,” she said quietly. “You are okay.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Thanks to Malcom Boykotte.”
She looked at him. “I know Malcom,” she said. “Or at least I've heard of him. And he seems slightly out of character, taking us in.”
“I'm not complaining,” said Harry, looking away. “If he had left us out there, or ignored the howling, I'd be dead. We'd all be.”
“Howling?” she repeated, looking mystified. Then her eyes widened. “Oh,” she murmured. “Dominion. Speaking of which, where is that dragon?”
“Safe, I hope,” said Harry. “And Ron's missing too.”
Narcissa looked at him sharply. “Weasley's gone?” she asked. “That isn't good. That isn't good at all.”
“I know,” said Harry, frowning at her. “And despite his having a family of Muggle-lovers, you could do him the courtesy of referring to him by his first name.”
“All right, all right,” she sighed. “But on to other things. Have you spoken to Granger yet?”
“Hermione,” he corrected her, “and yes, I did talk to her. She says that Hannah is here.”
Narcissa blinked. “Your sister is here? But where?”
He shook his head. “I've no idea. I'm not sure she's right to begin with. But she says Hannah is here, so I suppose I should check it out.”
“You should,” she said. “After all, from what I hear, Granger is never wrong.”
Harry nodded absentmindedly. Just then, Balm spoke from behind him. “Sir,” he said, looking at Harry and Narcissa, “you are invited to sup with the master tonight. It is a great honor.”
Harry looked around, wondering how much the butler had heard. “I'll do that, thanks,” Harry said. After Balm left, he looked back at Narcissa. “If only to find out more about this place.”
She nodded slowly. “Very wise, Harry. But if we are to attend dinner, you had better get into more appropriate attire.” she waved at his clothes, and Harry, looking down, wrinkled his nose at the less-than-suitable garments he was wearing. They had been fine originally, but now, after his adventures...
“I'll see you later,” he said to Narcissa, then walked out of the room. Striding along, he frowned at the air, thinking. He had a lot to figure out. Of course, with his friends' help – He stopped. Friends. Ron.
“What's the matter, Harry?” came Hermione's voice. He blinked and saw her standing there, looking at him, concerned.
“I'm thinking of Ron,” he admitted. “It looks like we lost him.”
“I'm worried too,” she said. “But I'm sure he's fine.”
“How can you be sure?” he asked, gazing down at her. “There's no way to know.”
She paused, causing Harry to regard her suspiciously. “It's called faith, Harry,” she said, then sighed. “We could use some.”
“True,” he muttered. He looked at her. “Go get some...er...better clothes,” he said, thinking she looked beautiful as she was. “We have a dinner to go to.”
Hmmm, what happens next? Please review, leave suggestions to aid my skill in storytelling, and...oh, by the way, would you readers like me to add previews in each chapter? As in, little sneak peeks of the next chapter coming up in each one? like, for chapter 23, i put in a preview for chapter 24...I've seen others do it, and thought it might be a nice idea...so, let me know! And now, on to the next!
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