Chapter 1 : The Library
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The Shafiq Manor was truly magnificent. As you would come to expect from such a rich, pure-blooded family. The gardens are beautiful and always neatly maintained, the ballroom is to die for you but perhaps, the best part of the Shafiq Manor is the library. To be more specific, the little alcove in the library. This particular spot is so perfect for numerous reasons. It’s quiet and tucked away in the furthest corner of the library- a perfect spot for reading a good book on a cold winter’s day. In summer, the large windows allow in just enough light but the bushes that lay just outside mean that no one can see.
For this reason, the alcove had been popular over the years. It had seen generations upon generations of the Shafiq family- friendships, betrayals, old wizards, young wizards and magic of all kinds. But in the summer of 1922, it witnessed more than ever before.
That day had been the beginning of it all. The sound of footsteps approaching the library broke the two apart. They waited patiently for a moment to see if the footsteps would disappear again, but they didn’t. They untangled themselves from each other- she left first, he stayed behind.
Neither of them noticed the other person in the room. Not until it was too late. And that was how, on the afternoon of June 24th 1922, it all begun- with the death of Hoyt Shafiq.
“I tell you, one day I will beat you in a game of Quidditch. Then what will you say?” The younger of the two brothers teased, passing his broom back and forth between his hands. His older brother chuckled.
“The day you beat me in Quidditch is the day Lycoris decrees that she’s in love with a house elf. Keep dreaming, brother.”
The two brothers did not look exceptionally alike, at least not anymore. The older of the two, Arcturus Black, was nearing on six foot and he had filled out from years and years of Quidditch. His once longish hair, a style that the younger of the two still sported, had been cut short. It made him look like a proper Ministry man, which at twenty one was all he could hope for. At only sixteen, Regulus rather still looked the twelve or thirteen year old version of himself. He kept his hair a little longer than what his mother liked, and he was still as a thin as a stick and hadn’t yet reached his full height.
Despite their age gap and their differences, the two brothers had always been close to one another. As well as their love for Quidditch, they shared the same fierce protectiveness of their sister Lycoris. She was eighteen years old and incredibly adamant that she no longer needed either of her brothers to protect her from the ‘big bad world’, not that they ever listened to her.
It’d been at Lycoris’ suggestion that they had all come to the Shafiq Manor for the weekend while their parents were out of town. Usually, they would have worried about her intentions or made accusations about Lycoris and any men in the house but not here. The heir, Hoyt Shafiq, was happily engaged to Orla Yaxley- a personal friend of Arcturus’ own wife, Melania. Other than Hoyt and her two brothers, there were no other men in the house for Lycoris to get into trouble with. So, they had listened for once.
“I’m completely famished,” Regulus exclaimed suddenly, his brother didn’t even look over at him- he was used to these random bursts by now. “I’m going to go convince the house elves to get me some food.” The younger of the two darted off in the direction of the kitchen while Arcturus continued on, shaking his head and chuckling to himself. Sometimes, his brother was far too charming for his own good even when the house elves were involved.
He ignored his brother’s whistling as it echoed down the corridor and made his way up the stairs. The two had been playing Quidditch for hours with only two breaks, and even though the weather was hardly summer-like, his robes were stuck to her with sweat. He’d never admit it to Regulus, but he was getting out of practice at Quidditch and it surely wouldn’t be long until Regulus beat him for once. He definitely didn’t want to imagine the look on his brother’s face on that day. The thought itself was embarrassing enough.
He just reached the top of the stairs and was already imagining the coolness of his room, when he noticed something strange. At first, he thought that a curtain from one of the windows or a tapestry had fallen from where it had hung but as he got closer he noticed it was the form of a person.
“Orla,” He half-whispered, as he moved towards the body slowly. He knew he should address her as Miss Yaxley but he had known the girl since childhood and it seemed so strange to address the bubbly girl so formally. Once he reached her, he brushed some of her long, dark hair out of her face- unlike his wife, she always wore hers unpinned around her shoulders. He could see her breathing- barely, but still breathing. “Regulus,” He called out, “Regulus.” His brother appeared at the bottom of the stairs.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, munching down on a biscuit before he stopped. “Is that Orla?” He asked, his eyes widening. “I’ll get Lycoris and Hoyt.” He said, bounding up the stairs and down the corridor before stopping in front of their sister’s, “Lycoris, we need your help.”
The Black daughter opened the door immediately, “What’s happened?” She asked, her appearance looking as accumulate as ever though her face betrayed her worry.
“Orla’s unconscious. We think she’s fainted or something. Arcturus is moving her into her room.” Regulus spilled out all at once, leading his sister in the direction of Orla’s room. At the door, Regulus turned to her again, “I’m going to go downstairs and see if I can find Hoyt,” Lycoris nodded, pushing into Orla’s rooms.
“What on earth has happened?” She asked, moving towards Arcturus who was just placing the girl down on her bed. Lycrois disappeared into the bathroom and returned a moment later with a cool towel in her hand- she placed it carefully on the girl’s head.
“I found her at the top of the staircase. She’s out cold. None of the usual spells are working at all.” Lycoris’ eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t think it’s anything natural.”
“You mean, you think someone did this to her?” Arcturus nodded solemnly- he wringed his hands together as he did whenever he was nervous. “But who? And why? Orla’s such a sweet girl.” Her brother made no answer. “Maybe, should I find Hoyt?”
Before he had the time to nod in response, a loud scream echoed through the house. Quickly, the two of them moved down the staircase and into the library, where Regulus stood- his arms tightly around the little Esther Shafiq whose entire body was shaking with sobs.
Regulus looked back at his siblings and then at the girl in his arms, “It’s Hoyt,” he whispered.
Authors Note: So this is my entry for Rumpelstiltskin's Murder Mystery Challenge. I’m a massive Agatha Christie fan so I’ve wanted to write a murder mystery for ages and now, this challenge has given me the chance. Obviously, this is only the first chapter and there’s more to come. There’s a total of eleven chapters plus an epilogue so this probably won’t be finished in time for the deadline of the challenge which is April 15th, but I will try my best. I’m hoping to get roughly, a chapter per week up but we’ll see how that goes.
Anyway, thank you all for reading and I hope I see you next time!
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