Authors Notes: Hey all, this is my first fic I've ever written. I put a lot of work into it, so I hope y'all find it decent. I've got the whole thing written and will be uploading a new chapter every week if I can. Shoot me a message or review if you have any questions or comments at any time. Also, I don't own Harry Potter in any way, I'm just taking the universe out for a spin.
The village itself was unremarkable. There were a hundred dozen others sprinkled across all of old Albion with the same sleepy atmosphere. Almost the same people gathered nightly in almost the same pub which was in almost the same state of disrepair, and all spoke of the same things. Times were getting dark. Things weren't necessarily bad , but they'd all be damned if things weren't heading there. No one knew why, but they all speculated nonetheless. It's what people do while in decrepit pubs located in quiet towns in England. It was truly more of a British tradition than tea, though no god fearing Englishman would never admit it.
In this quiet village, a village called Little Hangleton, there was one thing radically different from the rest. In this village there were four men and a snake in a house on a hill and they, with one exception, were plotting to make things go bad. They were finding a way to make the magical and mundane worlds their very own sordid playground, and whether from fanaticism or fear, their plans each headed in the same direction and all wrapped closely around a small boy sleeping restlessly in a small bedroom nearly 200 miles away.
The exception was woken from his slumber by a strange feeling he had not had in many years. He woke feeling a change in the manor house he had cared for nearly his entire life. He may not have been a magical, but some magic transcends wizard's bounds. Some magic can bind an old man to the fallen house he served regardless of his status, and that magic told this old man that someone was in the manor, and that they shouldn't be.
He roused his admittedly old bones, and put the kettle on. He knew it would be safe on a low heat while he scared off whichever damn teenager was bold enough to actually enter the house instead of throwing rocks at its windows. Then he took a rusted key from its place next to the door and he set off with his cane to do his duty.
He quietly unlocked and opened the back door of the manor (he knew his work; despite looking rusted, every hinge in the manor was well oiled and taken care of) and avoiding the weak spot in the floor next to the bureau in the hallway, he made his quiet way upstairs towards the flickering light of a fire and the not-quite-silent voices near it.
What the old man did not mark in his movement towards what he thought were some damn ruffians starting a fire, was the even quieter passage of a four and a half meter long snake behind him.
The voices belonging to the three men upstairs continued their plotting.
"Jorkins was a very fortunate find, again the foolishness of these half-bloods astounds me. Having a holiday in Albania. Even I considered other places, weak as I was," said a small voice from a large wing backed chair facing the fire.
"We eliminate them for a reason, my lord," came the response, thought this voice left one part of his response below his breath, "not just for the sport of it."
"Wormtail!" the voice from the chair called, "Nagini returns, milk her immediately, worm." Despite the declaration there was almost no malice in it. The voice seemed to say, between the lines, that its target just wasn't worth malice. The scurrying behavior of the fat man who responded really seemed to agree.
"I am tired from the journey. We must stay here," the small voice said with an air of finality.
"W-w-with the muggles, lord? Must we?" the shaking voice of the fat man said as he gathered the bottles and the cauldron he would need at the snake's return.
"Do not question me," the small voice said with an edge, "Our continued movement would be beyond foolish. With the World Cup coming up for the useless masses, that foolish thing they call a ministry will be more active than ever. We must take care to not even take too many of those muggle cattle around us for fear the ministry turns it's eye here. My connection to this place is not as forgotten as I would like, and even one auror would take our plans back months. We cannot afford a mistake so you will not make one, Wormtail."
The silence following this statement made the third man in the room stand straighter. His stood highest in his master's esteem, and he would personally see to the distraction of the ministry. There would be no errors. He would follow the plan, his master would rise, and he would be there at his side. Nothing else was acceptable.
"W-we could use another, master. He is well protected, we do not yet even know all of the things in our w-w-way," The fat man seemed to almost lose his nerve to speak here, but his hesitation met only deadly silence so he quickly added, "m-my lord."
The small voice dripped with poorly concealed disgust and the threat of violence, "Wormtail, you will play your part and you will do as I say, or your death will last years. You are mine and there is no force on this plane of existence that would stop me from making you suffer. There will be no discussion."
The old caretaker approached as quietly as he could, blessedly not hearing a word of the death he approached. The snake approached as quietly as she dared, her master called out to her after all, and the men upstairs waited for the both of them.
As the old man took care to avoid the creaking step, third from the top at the final landing, he saw three shadows on the wall, a chair, a fat man making continuous sudden jerking movements and a man who stood still at what could easily be mistaken for a military precision parade rest.
The old man paused at these three shadows. The chair must have had a small man in it. The second shadow was fat and short, but too tall to be one of the village boys who made the old caretaker's life hell. The fat man couldn't seem to stay still, he seemed to be jerking back and forth like someone on the drugs he had heard about at the town pub. No one really talked to the old caretaker, but he still heard things.
The last shadow was the most threatening, it was thin and tall, but what made it the worst was it was too still. It held itself like the soldiers he had seen in his youth. Even from the hall he could feel the man who cast the shadow practically radiate some kind of fanaticism. This was a terrifying man with a mission.
The old man may have never gone to school; he may not have been smart. He may have grown up taking care of the manor, knowing more about its lands than any sums or words, but he could tell something was amiss here. Men did not break into homes and light fires in fireplaces. They stole and sometimes (he shook remembering the manor's old master and how he had been blamed) killed, but they did not just stand around a fire.
Interrupting the Caretaker's ruminations, the snake decided the old man was close enough to her master. It no longer mattered if he knew of her presence, so she went over the squeaking step third from the top, and moved gracefully as only a snake can into the room with the fire, silently showing her master the meat that waited on the stairs as she curled round the base of the wing backed chair.
A hissing sound came from the room, knocking the man free from his fear induced paralysis after seeing a quarter-tonne snake slip by him and into the room. Another hissing, this one from a small high voice that was unmistakably that of a man met it, then the old man heard from the room, "My most faithful servant, Nagini reports an old muggle outside the door, do give him my regards."
The old man should have run at this point. His left knee may keep him up at night after all of his 70 years caring for the manor, but he knew his life was worth more than the pain vaulting the handrail and getting away would cost him. He had no love for the police (he shuddered again at the thought of what happened to the last master of the manor) but he knew when he was out of his depth. He was frozen by the word though, muggle.
That one second of hesitation cost him his life as the tall man met his shadow at the wall and a green light raced to the old caretaker.
200 miles away a small boy of 14 years cried out in his sleep, prompting his uncle to slam the wall between their rooms and yell for silence. The boy had no appreciation of the irony in yelling for silence as he woke with a start and the scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on his head bled just a little onto his forehead.