Foto bij Chapter 1 // Castle Combe

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The sound of breaking glass startled me. I kept crouching and tried to find out where the sound had come from, when I heard someone cursing and I relaxed again. His voice was almost as familiar as my own, so I turned around on the fence and stared down again.
Below me, the village of Castle Combe just started to wake up. The faceless clock on the church struck seven and, as if on cue, the shutters of the honey coloured Cotswold stone houses opened. The Bybrook river flowed quietly through the village and the smell of the homemade cakes from the best bakery in the village even reached the top of the house I was sitting on. I sniffed deeply and licked my lips. I could use some breakfast.
At that moment the door to the roof terrace opened and I heard someone walk up to me. A slender boy with sleek white-blond hair stood next to me, patting the soot of his clothes and sighed. His grey eyes slid across the village and a look of disgust appeared on his handsome face.
‘I don’t understand what you’ll think you’ll find here,’ Draco murmured, turning his back on the village and staring at the sky, ‘why are you so curious about those filthy muggles?’
‘I find them interesting,’ I answered with a smile, as I jumped down from the fence. ‘I find it remarkable how they live without magic.’
‘They’re disgusting,’ he pressed his lips together and looked at me for the first time. Other people saw Draco Malfoy as cold and contemptuous, but I knew him better than anyone else. I was five when we met, he was six. Our parents had tried to make us believe that we would be good friends, because we were the same: we were both sorcerers, both pure-blooded, both members of an old, prominent family and both raised in an atmosphere of regret that the Dark Lord had not succeeded.
Except for those things, we had nothing in common and although everything had turned out a little differently than our parents had expected, we had become good friends, despite all the differences that existed between us.
‘I think we can learn from them,’ I bit my lip after I said that. I had learned at a very young age that I wasn’t allowed to express such ’radical’ thoughts, that I was wrong, but I trusted Draco with my life and he knew that I had quite some different ideas than the rest of my family.
Draco snorted with disgust, ‘Don’t let our Death Eater cronies hear you.’
I giggled. ‘What? You’re going to tell on me?’
Draco looked at me and the corners of his mouth slid upwards in a lazy smile. ‘Who knows?’
I rolled my eyes and looked at the village again. ‘Do you think the baker might have those nice, chocolate macaroons again?’
Draco tried to hide his excitement, but his eyes grew a bit bigger. He shrugged his shoulders, allegedly uninterested, but I knew better. Draco insisted that he hated muggles, yet he couldn’t resist the fantastic macaroons that the baker made.
‘My treat,’ I said, taking a handful of muggle money out of my pockets.
‘One day, they’ll catch you with that money,’ he warned, but he still followed me down the stairs to the living room.
The house had been owned by the Macmillan family for years, but I had never lived in it myself. My parents and aunts and uncle had no interest in what they called ‘that small ruin on the hill’, but this was my favourite hiding spot. The cottage was small, silent and the one place my family never visited, which was perfect.
The oldest residents of the abandoned cottage were the spiders. Many generations had laced the walls with cobwebs of intricate beauty, though now even they lay in filthy rags. Dust lay over every surface like dirty snow, old tea cups lay on a coffee table thickly encrusted with dried up mildew. During my spare time I had tried to renovate this house, but since I wasn’t allowed to use magic (I didn’t go to Hogwarts yet) I hadn’t been able to do much.
‘I’ll wait here,’ Draco murmured, when it became clear that I expected him to wear muggle clothing, like me. ‘You should bring that cheesecake too.’
I chuckled, stepped over the glass vase that Draco probably destroyed when he had stepped out of the fireplace and stepped out of the door, leaving Draco behind. When I arrived at the gate at the end of the driveway, I turned and looked at the cottage again. It crouched low into the grassy embankment, as though it were trying to hide, but the misshapen slate roof was too large to go unnoticed. The walls were made of the same honey coloured stones as the houses in the village, but the stones were so old that is was a wonder how it didn’t yet cave in. The cottage was probably held together with magic, although I didn’t know who had casted the spell.
What could have once been a lovely rose garden was now a hostile thorn bush, and the swings where children used to spend moments of joy and innocent childhood were now creaking in the most haunted way.
The villagers never came here. Like any other deserted house, this cottage had its own ghost stories, which were handed down from generation to generation. When I sat in a café a few weeks ago, I had finally heard the ghost story for the first time.
A long time ago there had been a muggle in the woods, who, after a long day of hunting, was in the middle of an immense forest. It was getting dark, and having lost his bearings, he decided to head in one direction until he was clear of the increasingly oppressive foliage. After a what seemed like hours, he came across a cabin in a small clearing. Realizing how dark it had grown, he decided to see if he could stay there for the night. He approached and found the door ajar. Nobody was inside. The hunter flopped down on the single bed, deciding to explain himself to the owner in the morning. As he looked around, he was surprised to see the walls adorned by many portraits, all painted in incredible detail. Without exception, they appeared to be staring down at him, their features twisted into looks of hatred. Staring back, he grew increasingly uncomfortable. Making a concerted effort to ignore the many hateful faces, he turned to face the wall, and exhausted, he fell into a restless sleep. Face down in an unfamiliar bed, he turned blinking in unexpected sunlight. Looking up, he discovered that the cabin had no portraits, only windows. The muggle ran to the village, screaming, and since then, no muggle had dared to set foot inside the cottage on the hill again.

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